A small startup news site run by a former communications director for Mitt Romney in Iowa reported on Thursday that a Secret Service agent, near the end of the 2012 presidential cycle, divulged details of the president’s schedule to a Romney staffer.
The report, from the website Inside Sources, cites two Romney staffers “who witnessed the events in question.” The sources told Inside Sources that the married-Secret Service agent, who was not identified, was motivated by his flirtation with the female staffer to disclose the information and on a separate occasion gave joy rides in Secret Service cars with lights flashing. This all happened in a key battleground state in October 2012, according to the report.
Inside Sources reported that the schedule provided by the agent was received with skepticism by the Romney campaign but it was eventually proven to have been accurate.
The Inside Sources item came the same week that The Washington Post has been publishing reports on new details about Omar Gonzalez, the White House fence jumper who made it deep into the presidential mansion despite official reports that he had not. As a result of those reports, Julia Pierson stepped down as head of the United States Secret Service.
Former 2012 Romney staffers reached by TPM said they had not heard anything like what was reported in the Inside Sources piece, which was cited by The Hill and Business Insider on Thursday and was picked up by the Drudge Report.
The attention to the report was a coup for Inside Sources and Shawn McCoy, the publisher of the site and former communications director, who reported the story.
“Nobody knows too much about [our news site] yet,” McCoy told TPM in an interview on Thursday. “It launched in late April and the idea behind it is two-fold: we want it to be a policy focused website but we’ve also developed it to be a national syndication network. We have 170 newspapers that have joined that network.”
Inside Sources is made up of only McCoy, another part time staffer, and contractors, he told TPM. The site was funded by angel investors who McCoy wouldn’t name to TPM. McCoy also would not share what kind of traffic the site has enjoyed prior to the Secret Service report.
McCoy said that he had heard rumors about the Secret Service agent through other Romney staffers. He said he worked on the story for about a week. McCoy was not able to identify who the Secret Service agent was through his sources.
“For the Romney staff we had a lot of reunion events and I keep in touch with my counterparts from other states as well and I can’t say specifically when I’d heard about this but as more and more scandals have come out about the Secret Service it reminded me about it and I wanted to go out and try to find out who knew more,” McCoy said.
McCoy also stressed that he was approaching the story as a reporter first.
“What I’ve been asked a lot is in regards to whether this was something I was part of when I was on the campaign and what I want to make clear is that this was written with me as a reporter,” McCoy said. “I’d heard rumors about this but I needed to go track down sources that had first-hand knowledge.”