Let me start off by unequivocally stating that there is nothing objectively wrong with buying a timeshare. Or a recreational vehicle (RV). Or a boat – save for that whole thing about a boat owner’s best two days being the day he buys it and the day he sells it.

I don’t personally think any of those things are smart investments, but if that’s your jam, you do you.

That said, I’ve learned a few things about human nature after a decade representing folks in security clearance denial and revocation cases. One of those things is that there is a certain personality type that tends to be drawn in by timeshare pitches and gravitate toward “man-toys”[1] like boats and RV’s. It’s what I would best describe as the live-and-let-live type. And unfortunately, they often take the same carefree attitude toward paying their bills.

There is a reason why, year after year, across nearly every federal agency, financial problems far surpass every other category of adjudicative issue as the top reason for security clearance denials and revocations – just like there is a reason that a whole lot of those cases involve, you guessed it: timeshares and man-toys.

Don’t believe me? Try typing in the words “timeshare,” “recreational vehicle,” or, to a lesser extent, “boat” into the case search function on the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) website. DOHA is the largest provider of administrative due process hearings within the federal government’s security apparatus. They hear an awful lot of security clearance denial and revocation cases, so they are a good place to start in evaluating personnel security trends across the national security sector.

What interested readers will inevitably discover is numerous cases with similar fact patterns: man buys timeshare/RV/boat; man can’t or won’t pay bills; man encounters collections, repossessions, and other unfortunate outcomes that lead to questions about whether he has a heightened susceptibility to bribery or demonstrates the degree of personal responsibility the government expects from clearance holders, who it considers to be fiduciaries of classified information.

When that happens, you’d better believe that the government attorney in these adversarial proceedings will argue that the clearance holder is reckless, irresponsible, and can’t be trusted. Something along the lines of, “look at this guy, judge. He’s out there puttering around in his boat and can’t be bothered to pay his bills.”

It may not always be fair or entirely accurate; unforeseen circumstances happen to good, otherwise responsible people. But it is not a particularly good or sympathetic look, and thus often an effective line of attack.

So, if that RV, boat, or timeshare will bring joy and fulfillment to your life, don’t let me rain on your parade. Just keep in mind how many others thought similarly – and be sure you can truly afford it.



This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Although the information is believed to be accurate as of the publication date, no guarantee or warranty is offered or implied. Laws and government policies are subject to change, and the information provided herein may not provide a complete or current analysis of the topic or other pertinent considerations. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 


[1] I call them “man-toys” only because “woman-toys” is awkward and “adult toys” implies something else entirely. Yes, I am aware women can purchase timeshares, RV’s, and boats.

Related News

Sean M. Bigley retired from the practice of law in 2023, after a decade representing clients in the security clearance process. He was previously an investigator for the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (then-U.S. Office of Personnel Management) and served from 2020-2024 as a presidentially-appointed member of the National Security Education Board. For security clearance assistance, readers may wish to consider Attorney John Berry, who is available to advise and represent clients in all phases of the security clearance process, including pre-application counseling, denials, revocations, and appeals. Mr. Berry can be found at https://berrylegal.com.