- Last Updated: 7:53 AM, April 15, 2012
- Posted: 10:03 PM, April 13, 2012
CARTAGENA, Colombia — A U.S. lawmaker says a "significant number" of Secret Service agents involved in an alleged prostitution scandal at an international summit brought women back to their hotel rooms before President Barack Obama arrived in Colombia.
U.S. Rep. Peter King, who was briefed Saturday on the investigation, tells The Associated Press that "close to" all 11 of the agents involved had women in the rooms at their hotel, which was separate from the one where Obama is now staying.
The New York Republican says the women were "presumed to be prostitutes," but investigators are interviewing the agents. King heads the House Homeland Security Committee.
The AP had earlier confirmed that agents had been sent home because of misconduct involving prostitutes.
CNN reported the scandal erupted after one of the agents stiffed one of the hookers.
"One of the agents did not pay one of the prostitutes, and she complained to the police," Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter and author of "In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect" told the network.
The Washington Post, which was the first to report the story, said Kessler alerted them to the situation.
Kessler told the Washington Post that while soliciting prostitutes is legal in Colombia within designated "tolerance zones," it's considered inappropriate by the Secret Service. Several of the agents involved are married, Kessler also told the DC paper.
CNN reported Saturday that, according to two government sources, several prostitutes were brought back to Cartagena's Hotel Caribe by the Secret Service members, who were staying at the hotel that's now home to President Obama, other White House staffers and members of the press corps.
One of the prostitutes did have a dispute with the agents over payment, CNN confirmed.
A senior law enforcement official told Fox News the dispute started when employees at the hotel witnessed apparent inappropriate behavior by at least one of the Secret Service agents.
According to the official, a hotel employee confronted at least one agent to demand he pay extra money for having an overnight "guest" in his room -- allegedly a prostitute. The agent balked, which touched off the confrontation that forced diplomatic intervention.
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan would not confirm that prostitution was involved, saying only that there had been "allegations of misconduct" made against Secret Service personnel in Cartagena for the summit.