To say that the relationship between the Obama administration and Comcast—widely consideredthe most hated company in America—is cozy would be an understatement. Not only is telecom giant one of the biggest power players in Washington, but, during a 2013 fundraising event at the home of Comcast Vice President David Cohen, Obama quipped, “I have been here so much, the only thing I haven’t done in this house is have Seder dinner.”
As Secret Service Director Julia Pierson steps down from her post mired in scandal, her replacement comes directly from Comcast. Earlier this week, Joseph Clancy was officially named as Pierson’s replacement to lead the agency tasked with guarding the physical safety of top national officials.
However, it isn’t just that Clancy is coming from Comcast. Prior to his time leading corporate security at the Philadelphia-based cable giant, Clancy worked in in the Secret Service leading the agency’s Presidential Security Division until he retired in 2011
“I appreciate his willingness to leave his position in the private sector on very short notice and return to public service for a period,” said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in a statement announcing Clancy’s appointment.
The Secret Service is housed under the umbrella of DHS.
Individuals moving back and forth between the upper echelons of the executive branch and telecom industry is nothing new. At the Federal Communication Commission, the agency tasked with regulating cable companies like Comcast, 80 percent of all commissioners moved into industry after leaving public service, according to at least one estimate. In fact, current FCC chairman Tom Wheeler served as the chief lobbyist for both the cable and wireless industries before joining the Obama administration.
When it comes to Comcast, there are a number of serious regulatory issues the Obama Administration will soon have to deal with—the most prominent being net neutrality and the company’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.
Clancy comes to the head of the agency at an extremely rocky time, with a trio of scandals casting serious doubts about the ability of the Secret Service to perform the security component of its job; the agency also investigates certain financial crimes like counterfeiting.
Earlier this month, an Iraq War veteran was able to jump a fence and charge disturbingly far into the White House before being tackled by an off-duty agent. Not only was the intruder carrying a knife, but he had been interviewed by Secret Service agents multiple times prior to the incident. During one interview, agents discovered he had an arsenal of weapons and detailed map of the White House.
It was also recently revealed that an armed contractor with an arrest record for assault and battery was allowed on an elevator with the president.
In addition, during the 2012 presidential campaign, a drunk Secret Service agent made romantic advances toward a Mitt Romney campaign staffer and leaked to her details about the president’s planned campaign stops. According to InsideSources, which broke the news, the Romney campaign didn’t elect to do anything with the information; however, the disclosure was a serious breach of protocol.
Pierson was the second consecutive Secret Service director to resign in disgrace. In 2012, her predecessor, Mark Sullivan, stepped down after three decades of leading the agency following a scandal involving a baker’s dozen of Secret Service agents drinking heavily and hiring prostitutes during a presidential trip to Cartagena, Colombia.