The White House said it would discipline two government employees who impersonated journalists in advance of a trip by President Bush to the Gulf Coast, The Washington Post said Saturday.
The Post quoted a Gautier, Miss., couple whose home was wrecked by Hurricane Katrina as saying two men identified themselves as journalists during a visit to the couple’s home.
Elaine Akins told the newspaper she and her husband Jerry were initially told by the two men that they were Fox News journalists, but that they later identified themselves as Secret Service agents.
Bush visited Gautier March 8.
“They just came up and said they were with the media, and then they said they were with Fox,” Akins was quoted as saying.
“They just talked to us and asked us about rebuilding our house. Then, after everything was over with, they approached us and they were laughing, and they said: ‘You know, we really weren’t with Fox. We’re government, Secret Service men,”’ she said.
White House spokesman Ken Lisaius was quoted as saying, “This incident has been brought to our attention, and this is clearly not appropriate, nor is it part of our standard operating procedures. The individuals will be verbally reprimanded.”
A Secret Service spokesman told the newspaper the people involved were not Secret Service officials.
Asked to identify where they worked, White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said she would not go beyond the statement Lisaius gave to the Post.