Here’s your weekly DOHA dose – a shot of security clearance appeal cases and their outcome. The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals releases the results of their security clearance appeals cases. They’re one of the best insights into which clearance cases are granted or denied in the Department of Defense.
True or False: What happens between two consenting adults is none of the government’s business. Even if it costs $660,000 dollars.
I’m a fairly private person. That’s why reading DOHA appeals can leave me in fits of nervous scratching. People will go to great lengths to maintain their security clearance eligibility – it’s important to keep in mind that the denials posted on the DOHA site are those individuals who decided to appeal their Statement of Reasons (SOR) – not those who got the intent to deny clearance from the federal government and then just decided to cut and run. There are a number of positions which require access to classified information. The skills may transfer into the private sector, but the mission and the money may not be quite the same. That’s why some individuals will fight to maintain their eligibility, even when the odds may seem stacked against them.
An August 2020 security clearance appeal outlined a case where an individual had wracked up $112,000 in federal taxes (an issue he may have been able to mitigate), but had also provided approximately $660,000 to women for ‘sexual intimacy’.
The clearance holder in question was a 54-year old widowed software engineer. He was actually able to mitigate the financial issues related to the SOR, but he was unable to mitigate the Personal Conduct issues related to given thousands of dollars to women he had met at gentleman’s clubs. This wasn’t a matter of someone simply spending money he had to entertain women, but cashing out his 401(k), racking up credit card debt, and selling investments in order to give money to women.
The Slippery Slope of Being a Sugar Daddy
Paying for sex is a no-go for security clearance holders. But it’s worth noting that even gifting money to a third party – especially someone of the opposite sex – is going to cause security clearance issues. Honey traps are a real – and successful – method used to lure security clearance holders into giving up classified information. Layer on the financial compromise of giving up your retirement savings to a third party and you have a recipe for disaster. Multiple government officials have had run ins with foreign liaisons who then gained access to sensitive information. Your local gentleman’s club may not seem like the hotbed of the Russian intelligence service, but if it’s an establishment frequented by anyone working in government, you can bet there are eyes and ears eager to steal secrets along with dollars and cents.
False: What Happens in the Gentleman’s Club Rarely Stays in the Gentleman’s Club
Personal conduct issues are a security clearance killer. Just because you have the money doesn’t mean you can spend it any way you want. When it comes to debt and financial transactions, the government cares about the source. In some instances, the security clearance holder in question said the financial transactions were ‘gifts’ and no sexual favors were traded. Regardless, the fact that accounts were being emptied to pay women is an issue. The applicant also faltered on whether the money was traded for intimacy. Financial issues were not a factor, even though the applicant’s finances were problematic because he was living within his means and had taken steps to address financial issues.
But the personal conduct issues couldn’t be overcome, according to the judge:
“None of the mitigating conditions fully apply. Applicant showed that he could be vulnerable to exploitation or duress by others who might seek to exploit his empathy or desire for personal intimacy. Although he maintains that there is no risk of recurrence of paying women for sexual intimacy, he has not had any counseling, and not enough time has passed for me to conclude that the conduct will not recur. Personal conduct security concerns are not mitigated.”