Secret Service Agent Who Decried Taking 'a Bullet' for Trump Helps Organize 'Womxn’s' March

Sources: O'Grady told agents she escaped discipline, will leave after reaching retirement milestone

Women's March on Denver / Getty Images
January 10, 2019

The senior Secret Service agent who said she did not want to take "a bullet" for President Trump and was removed from her leadership post nearly two years ago is helping organize a "Womxn's" March on Denver January 19th as a member of the event's executive leadership team, according to the march's website.

Kerry O'Grady is assisting with the march while she appears to remain on the Secret Service payroll and continues to live in Denver, though she has been sidelined from her previous role as the head of the Denver office, multiple sources close to the Secret Service told the Washington Free Beacon.

It is her second year of involvement with the march, according to its website.

The website says organizers included an "x" in the word "woman," "because we believe in equity and we act with purpose to make space for trans, non-binary and genderqueer persons in our name."

The website says O'Grady "supported logistics and the leadership team directly in 2018."

Additionally, O'Grady in recent months told other agents that she "beat" the agency's misconduct charges for the anti-Trump Facebook posts and that she planned to retire within the next 60 to 90 days when she reaches a key retirement milestone date, the sources told the Free Beacon.

O'Grady's name still appears on an internal agency "locator" of all active Secret Service agents and their contact information without any type of restriction or qualifier listed, the sources said.

The Secret Service declined to comment about O'Grady's employment status or any other matter related to her. O'Grady did not respond to an email to her Secret Service email address seeking comment.

Patricia Smith, a public-relations contact for the Denver march, on Tuesday said she would pass along the Washington Free Beacon's questions to O'Grady. Smith did not respond to a question about whether she knew if O'Grady has legal permission from the Secret Service to participate in the march's organization or if O'Grady is still employed by the agency.

Organizers followed up by issuing a statement from Angela Astle, a member of the march’s leadership team. The statement noted that the march is a nonprofit committed to "uplifting womxn and all those who have been marginalized and oppressed" and said that all of its members "are unpaid volunteers and are committed to the highest ethical standards."

Congressional leaders have recently faulted other Department of Homeland Security agencies for the use of paid and unpaid leave to allow favored employees facing substantiated claims of misconduct to remain long enough to attain full retirement benefits.

Outgoing Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) last week released the results of a nearly four-year investigation into the U.S. Marshals Service, an agency where a flood of Secret Service agents have transferred in recent years. The probe, he said, uncovered a culture of misconduct that echoed similar problems his committee and others have uncovered at the Secret Service.

The new report specifically criticized the U.S. Marshals Service for allowing employees with substantiated misconduct to remain on paid or unpaid leave long enough to reach key retirement dates.

O'Grady has not appeared at the Denver office since her forced departure from the role in early 2017 after a media report about her pre-election Facebook comments about Trump launched an internal Secret Service misconduct investigation, according to the sources.

O'Grady wrote on her personal Facebook site in 2016 that she would rather face "jail time" than take "a bullet" for Trump because she considered him a "disaster" for the country, especially as it relates to women and children.

In an interview and written statement, O'Grady repeatedly stressed that the Facebook post should not be taken literally and that she would in no way shirk her duties to protect the president because of her opposition to his presidency and her support for Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

The "Womxn's March on Denver" references Trump's election as the impetus for organizing the 2017 March in Denver, with planning beginning "roughly 10 days after the 2016 election."

The march's mantra, stated on its homepage, is: "Listen. Unite. Act."

"Listen to those who have been silenced. Unite under the banner of anti-oppression. Act with intention," the website reads.

An O'Grady bio on the march's website paraphrases a quote from Desmond Tutu that "to be neutral in the face of injustice is to choose the side of the oppressor."

"Kerry O'Grady spent 25 years as a special agent in the mostly white, male-dominated field of federal law enforcement," the bio says. "She is a witness to the fact that institutionalized disparities and unconscious biases continue to prevent women and minorities from obtaining equality in the workplace and in the criminal justice system."

"She is determined to use her privilege and energy to mobilize around a movement that uplifts women and strives to dismantle systems of oppressions," it reads.

Sean Bigley, a partner at Bigley Ranish, a firm specializing in federal employment cases and security-clearance denials, said O'Grady's involvement in the march, at least in the context of security-clearance cases, would probably pass legal muster.

"A government employee speaking in their capacity as a private citizen on a matter of public concern generally retains their First Amendment rights," he said.

"But if she were speaking about matters that were of direct bearing on her employment and her job duties—speech that was disruptive in the workplace, for example—her agency would have more latitude to restrict that speech or prevent it and discipline her for that," he said.

A government employee involved in partisan activities could also run afoul of the Hatch Act, a federal law that restricts certain federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity, he added.

Bigley also said O'Grady's paid administrative leave is rare because all of his Secret Service clients facing misconduct charges were placed on unpaid administrative leave.

Cheri Cannon, a partner at the law firm Tully Rickey, has said Secret Service managers often impose unpaid leave and revoke security clearances at the same time in misconduct cases in order to force a person to quit rather than go through the lengthy appeals process to try to get their security clearance reinstated.

One day after news broke about O'Grady's Facebook comments, the premier group for retired agents, the Former Agents U.S. Secret Service, moved swiftly to expel O’Grady from the ranks of associate members.