Secret Service disciplines 41 employees for leaking GOP congressman's information
Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah (Don LaVange/Flickr)

Forty-one U.S. Secret Service employees have been disciplined over a media leak of the personal files of a congressman who had criticized the agency's security lapses, the Department of Homeland Security said on Thursday.

Punishments ranged from a letter of reprimand to suspensions without pay for up to 45 days, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

One person found to have disclosed information on Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz to the Washington Post has resigned from the service, Johnson said, noting that privacy laws prevented disclosure of more details.

The latest embarrassment for the Secret Service came as it seeks to recover from a leadership crisis and mend a culture of covering up mistakes that some trace back 12 years to when it was pulled out of the Treasury Department and absorbed into the sprawling new Department of Homeland Security.

More than 40 Secret Service employees accessed the personal information of Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who was leading a probe of the agency, according to a report in September by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General.

Soon after Chaffetz held a hearing on the agency in March, various media reported that he had been rejected for a Secret Service job in 2003.

"Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the Inspector General's report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service," Johnson said. Access to such information has been tightened, he added.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Eric Walsh; Editing by Richard Chang)