(WASHINGTON) — Dan Bongino, a 12-year veteran of the Secret Service, once defended President Obama with his life. But now, he says “the fog of scandals in the Obama administration” and an inside look at the Obamacare debate led him to turn in his badge, turn on his former boss, and run for Congress as a Republican.
“I was behind the scenes for 12 years…I’ve been in the room during some of the most important conversations,” Bongino told ABC News about the access he had to high-level discussions inside the White House.
Bongino’s former colleagues are unhappy with him parlaying his proximity to the president into a political career.
“He’s trying to draw attention to himself and he’s hijacking the Secret Service brand,” agents who had worked with Bongino told ABC News. “That’s all he’s got going for him.”
Bongino, who protected presidents Obama and George W. Bush, is running for the Republican nomination in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, a seat currently occupied by Democrat John Delaney. The election will be held next year.
Bongino, 39, is careful not to say too much about exactly what he saw and heard while protecting the president, but hints that “It’s worse than people know. They’d be shocked, scared, if they knew everything.”
“Being a Secret Service agent, I have an obligation not to disclose personal conversations and security details,” he told ABC News. “But that doesn’t prevent me from speaking generally about foundational principles and the system of patronage and punishment I saw in the Obama administration.”
The defining moment, he says, when he decided to leave the service and enter politics, came after overhearing a series of secret negotiations inside the White House in Obama’s first term.
“If there was one event that helped make up my mind, the most visceral was the Obamacare debate. The public doesn’t have any idea how many deals were cut on that. The Republican Party has a reputation for being the party of big business, but you wouldn’t think that if you saw the Obamacare debate. So many people were sold out, and so many sold out, it’s disgusting,” he said.
Bongino was Maryland’s Republican candidate for Senate in 2012, but lost handedly to incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin. He’s planning on releasing a memoir about his time in the service later this month. Bongino said he was “very complimentary of the president and his family,” but that the Obama administration had become “enmeshed in so many scandals.”
Secret Service agents who served with Bongino but asked for anonymity confirmed his resume, but said the candidate “tends to exaggerate his importance on the presidential detail and exaggerate his proximity.”
“We don’t sit in on meetings at the White House. We don’t sit in on high-level meetings,” the agents said.
The agents said Bongino’s assignments were “typical” of agents in the president’s detail and that he was not a supervisor.
Since Bongino’s resignation, agents are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Secret Service agents receive secret clearance, but unlike agents in the intelligence agencies, they were not previously legally bound not to disclose what they saw and heard while at work.
“Congressman Delaney is focused on serving his constituents and isn’t paying attention to the Republican primary,” a spokesman for the Democrat incumbent said in a statement.
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