The lead investigator in the Department of Homeland Security's 2012 review of the Secret Service prostitution scandal -- which was sensationalized by conservative media -- has reportedly resigned after being accused of soliciting a prostitute himself.
According to recent reports, David Nieland resigned from DHS in August after refusing to answer questions about whether he solicited a prostitute in Florida. His 2012 inquiry into how the Secret Service handled the prostitution scandal that resulted in the firing of eight agents was the source of right-wing media claims of a political cover-up, as Nieland told Congress that he felt pressure from superiors to delay his investigative report until after the 2012 election and to "withhold and alter certain information." According to the Senate Homeland Security subcommittee's subsequent review of the investigation process, however, there was "no evidence to substantiate" Nieland's allegations.
Still, The Washington Post cited Nieland's unverified claims for its controversial October 8 story on the investigation, which relied heavily on an anonymous source to implicate then-White House volunteer and Yale law student Jonathan Dach in the prostitution activity. The Post printed his name despite the fact that the White House cleared him of wrongdoing in 2012 (Notably, the Post's recent coverage of Nieland's resignation does not use Dach's name, instead simply explaining that Nieland had mentioned a White House "volunteer").
The paper was roundly criticized for its decision to print the White House volunteer's name -- as Huffington Post senior media reporter Michael Calderone pointed out, the Post's story relied on uncorroborated claims from a single anonymous "eyewitness" who said "he saw Dach with a woman he believed was a prostitute," but failed to mention any attempts to confirm the anonymous woman's existence or identity. Calderone slammed the paper for "craft[ing] its story in a way that could give the impression of guilt or impropriety":
So why then did the Post decide to name him now, two and a half years after it broke the news of the scandal and 9 months since reporters began communicating with his attorney? Letters obtained by The Huffington Post show the attorney, Richard Sauber, rebutted the claims and offered countervailing evidence in letters sent to top Post editors. The decision to publish Dach's identity regardless raises questions about the threshold news organizations must meet when revealing the name of someone accused of lurid activity without independently confirming the claims.
Though The Post did not conclude that Dach hired a prostitute, it nevertheless crafted its story in a way that could give the impression of guilt or impropriety. ... Sauber denied the allegations and expressed concern that the inclusion of Dach's name in a story on the prostitution scandal could significantly damage his professional future. Sauber wrote on Jan. 16that the publication of the charge "will be devastating to this young man just as he embarks on his career after law school."