(CNN) – Two members of Congress on Sunday questioned the gender makeup of the Secret Service, speculating whether the recent scandal in Colombia could have been avoided if the agency had more women on its payroll.
“I can't help but wonder if there'd been more women as part of that detail, if this ever would have happened,” Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said on ABC’s “This Week.”
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A ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Collins has been at the forefront of calling for further investigations into the recent controversy, in which Secret Service members allegedly brought back several prostitutes to a hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, while they were on a security detail in advance of President Barack Obama's trip there for the Summit of the Americas.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, who sits on the House Oversight Committee, echoed the sentiments of her colleague on Sunday, saying she spoke with Secret Service director Mark Sullivan about the agency’s diversity. He noted that 11% of agents are women, she said, although the agency did not immediately confirm the statistic to CNN on Sunday.
According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission report, women made up about a quarter of the Secret Service's 6,913 employees in 2010.
“I can't help but keep asking this question, where are the women? We probably need to diversify the Secret Service and have more minorities and more women,” Maloney, a Democrat, said.
The agency says 12 of its members have been implicated in the incident so far. One employee "has been cleared of serious misconduct, but will face administrative action," while five employees are on administrative leave, the Secret Service said.
The Senate Homeland Security Committee will continue its probe this week, seeking more answers on whether the scandal in Colombia marked an isolated incident or represented a wider culture of misconduct within the agency.