Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator Michele Leonhart has resigned as the result of a series of scandals, most recently over the widespread sexual misconduct of DEA agents abroad. As far back as 2001, DEA agents held taxpayer-funded sex parties with prostitutes abroad, often funded by the drug cartels they were tasked with fighting, according to excerpts of a report released by the House Oversight Committee last week.
The committee grilled Leonhart and Associate Deputy FBI Director Kevin Perkins about the sex scandals and found both the DEA and FBI “impeded and obstructed,” a Department of Justice investigation into the allegations. The committee found Leonhart failed to properly penalize officers involved, but she said civil service laws prevented her from firing or otherwise disciplining her agents. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said the findings of the report reflect “a ‘spring break frat party’ mentality for the last 15 years at the DEA.”
The next day, nine Republican and 13 Democratic lawmakers on the committee released a statement declaring they had no confidence Leonhart could “initiate the necessary reforms to restore the reputation of a vital agency.”
"Administrator Leonhart has been woefully unable to change or positively influence the pervasive ‘good old boy’ culture that exists throughout the agency,” the press release said. “From her testimony, it is clear she lacks the authority and will to make the tough decisions required to hold those accountable who compromise national security and bring disgrace to their position.”
Leonhart started her law enforcement career as a police officer in Baltimore in the late 1970s but joined the DEA as a special agent in 1980. After 24 years climbing up the ranks at DEA headquarters, she became deputy administrator in 2004 and became acting administrator in 2007. She was nominated as administrator in 2010 by Obama and was confirmed by Congress shortly thereafter.
Besides the recent sex scandal, her time as administrator was marked by a number of high-level bouts with Obama over his marijuana policy and with Attorney General Eric Holder over her opposition to Holder’s plans to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, NPR reported. Leonhart did not support Obama’s acknowledgement marijuana is not “more dangerous than alcohol,” nor his and Holder’s initiatives to reform drug-related penalties.