The U.S. Secret Service prostitution scandal is more wide spread than first believed, according to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Sen. Collins said small groups of Secret Service employees visited clubs, bars, and brothels ahead of President Obama's arrival in Colombia in April.
In the first congressional hearing on the matter Wednesday, Collins also challenged the statement that the scandal was an isolated incident. She pointed out that two participants were Secret Service supervisors.
"This was not a one-time event," said Collins, the senior Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "The circumstances unfortunately suggest an issue of culture."
Four Secret Service employees were fired as a result of the scandal. Each appear to second Collins' opinion and plan to fight their dismissals.
They argue that they were made scapegoats for behavior that has been tolerated for years.
In prepared remarks before the committee, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said there was never a risk of a national security breach.
"At the time the misconduct occurred, none of the individuals involved in the misconduct had received any specific protective information, sensitive security documents, firearms, radios, or other security-related equipment in their hotel rooms," Sullivan said.
Prostitution is legal in Colombia, but Sullivan quickly issued new guidelines that made it clear that agents on assignment overseas are subject to U.S. Laws.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is also under investigation. Collins revealed that the case involved at least two DEA employees who entertained female masseuses in the Cartagena apartment of one of the DEA agents.