DENVER – A top U.S. Secret Service agent posted on her Facebook page during the 2016 presidential race that she would not “take a bullet” for the GOP candidate, and eventual winner, Donald Trump.
“But this world has changed and I have changed. And I would take jail time over a bullet or an endorsement for what I believe to be disaster to this country and the strong and amazing women and minorities who reside here,” wrote Kerry O’Grady, the special agent in charge of the agency’s Denver region.
“Hatch Act be damned. I am with Her.”
“I am with Her” was a slogan used by the failed Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton.
In yet another post, according to the Washington Examiner, she claimed the nation was moving “into a period of bigotry, misogyny and racism that this country has not tolerated for decades.
“Dark ages. I am horrified and dismayed beyond words,” she wrote.
The Hatch Act forbids federal officials, excluding the president and a few others, from engaging in certain political activities.
The report said O’Grady “oversees coordination with Washington-based advance teams for all presidential candidate and presidential trips to the area, including all upcoming or future trips by the president, vice president or Trump administration officials.”
A source for the Examiner said the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security had received a complaint about O’Grady’s social-media campaigning.
The Secret Service told the news organization that it was aware of the postings, “and we are looking into the matter.”
Spokeswoman Cathy Milhoan later issued a statement saying: “The U.S. Secret Service is aware of the postings and the agency is taking quick and appropriate action. As a matter of practice, we do not comment on personnel matters.”
“All Secret Service agents and employees are held to the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct,” Milhoan added. “Any allegations of misconduct are taken seriously and swiftly investigated.”
“It’s unclear whether the Secret Service explicitly bans agents and other employees from engaging in political speech on social media or has written rules prohibiting it,” the Examiner reported. “But in operational security training, instructors have long warned agents or would-be agents against the use of social media because it can make them vulnerable to threats by exposing their personal information and their movements, according to two knowledgeable sources.”
The report said O’Grady posted on Facebook in October that she was endorsing Hillary Clinton.
“As a public servant for nearly 23 years, I struggle not to violate the Hatch Act. So I keep quiet and skirt the median,” she posted to her readers. “To do otherwise can be a criminal offense for those in my position. Despite the fact that I am expected to take a bullet for both sides.
“But this world has changed and I have changed. And I would take jail time over a bullet or an endorsement for what I believe to be disaster to this country and the strong and amazing women and minorities who reside here. Hatch Act be damned. I am with Her.”
The Examiner explained two rules apparently apply to Secret Service agents: They may not post on social media comments that advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office or partisan political group. They also may not use any email account or social media to “distribute, send or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.”
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O’Grady told the Examiner she took the Facebook post down and “wasn’t trying to imply she wouldn’t take a bullet for Trump or any officials in the Trump administration.”
She told the publication, “It was an internal struggle for me but as soon as I put it up, I thought it was not the sentiment that I needed to share because I care very deeply about the mission.”
She claimed she was still able to perform her duties.
“I’m proud to do it and we serve the office of the president,” she told the Examiner.
She explained her posting was in reaction to the pre-election video that shows Trump making sexual comments about women.
She said she experienced sexual assault in college and her reaction was “emotional.”
“But I recognize that the agency is the most important thing to me. My government is the most important thing to me,” she told the Examiner. “I serve at the pleasure of the president, but I still have the First Amendment right to say things.”
But the report noted O’Grady’s blasts at Trump didn’t end when he took the oath of office.
She posted the logo for the Women’s March on Denver as her Facebook cover backdrop on Inauguration Day, last Friday, at 12:25 p.m.
When one of her Facebook followers commented that “none of these women represent me #justsayin,” O’Grady countered that “all of these women represent me! Proud to say it! #nasty.”
The exchange, captured in a screengrab, no longer appears on O’Grady’s Facebook page.
Late on Inauguration Day, she posted her profile picture to an artist’s rendering of the Princess Leia character in the “Star Wars” movies with the words, “A woman’s place is in the resistance.”
The Examiner explained “the resistance,” alluding to the rebels in the movies, has become a moniker for opponents of Trump’s presidency.
Her statement to the Examiner for the story said: “I serve this country with pride and I proudly diligently and fiercely protect and support the institutions and pillars of our republic established by the very same document that allows my free expression. I do so with every fiber of my being for the very reason that those institutions are in place to guarantee my right and the rights of all our citizens to voice and express our opinions and beliefs even when and especially when those values may be contrary to those of the party in power. My devotion to mission and country is only strengthened by the fact that the founders recognize the value of dissent and the freedom to assemble and voice those opposing convictions. They enshrine those rights for future generations so we avoid the path of authoritarian regimes that shackle their people with fear.”