Daniel Bongino, a former U.S. Secret Service agent whose recent assignments included a posting to President Obama’s protective detail, has decided to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland as a Republican.
At an agency that stresses the silence and political neutrality of its agents, Bongino’s announcement is raising eyebrows. It’s not unusual for federal law-enforcement agents to run for office after they retire, but the Secret Service frowns upon former agents who make sudden turns to politics. The agency has fought to give presidential protective division agents legal standing to keep them from testifying about high-level conversations they overhear, lest they lose the trust of the commander in chief.
Bongino is seeking the Republican nomination to take on freshman Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. Bongino's Twitter account calls him a “Conservative Republican Candidate for the U.S. Senate” and directs visitors to a campaign website that is offline.
In a press release announcing his candidacy, Bongino said that he left law enforcement "because of political leaders making decisions which are making America a follower and not a leader in the global economy."
His campaign chair will be Brian Murphy, who unsuccessfully sought Maryland's Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010 and was endorsed by the tea party and Sarah Palin. On Murphy’s Facebook page, he writes that Bongino “saw firsthand the impact of well intentioned but fatally flawed government programs” as a “child in New York City."
Bongino has spent most of his career in government. He was a New York City police officer for four years before joining the Secret Service. He spent 12 years protecting presidents, candidates, and world leaders, advancing overseas trips, standing post, and investigating financial fraud. He transferred off Obama’s detail six months ago and spent the past five months working out of the agency’s Baltimore field office. He resigned earlier this month and started his own security consulting company. While an agent, he cofounded a mixed martial arts accessory company called Friction MMA.
"In my career, I've seen the effects of failed policies on citizens in our inner cities. I've had the honor of traveling to 27 countries with the Secret Service. And the common theme in every country is a line around the block at the US Embassy," Bongino is quoted in his campaign release. "America is an extraordinary place. But our citizens must be given a chance to compete in the world economy. It is an ideas economy, and we know what works and what doesn't. This is an 'open-book' test, but politicians insist on trying systems that either have already failed in other countries, or are in the process of failing."
Americans "are being held back by our government," he says.
Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb is a former Secret Service agent, but he spent five years as an aide to then-Gov. Frank Keating (R), himself a former special agent for the FBI, before joining the agency, and several years elapsed between his official Secret Service duties and his first successful run for office.
The Secret Service declined to comment on Bongino's planned candidacy.
CORRECTION: The original version of this report gave an incorrect name for Daniel Bongino's campaign chairman and for Bongino's mixed martial arts accessory company.