Security Clearance Denial

Domestic Violence, Debt Easy Path to Security Clearance Denial

In a previous post, “Online Dating Sites, Sextortion, and Your Clearance”, I covered the pitfalls and potential for blackmail for clearance holders while using online dating sites. In a similar scenario, a recent Department of Energy contractor lost his security clearance  when a woman for whom he was providing financial assistance to and was romantically involved with took pictures of him in a compromising sexual situation and then threatened him with blackmail. This is one of the more interesting cases I have seen in quite a while, so happy reading!

The Local Security Office became aware of some personal conduct issues with this contractor, suspended his clearance, and then had him come in for an interview to obtain more information. The ensuing interview kicked off a referral to a psychiatrist, where even more concerning information was revealed. This resulted in a formal Letter of Notification (LON) to the individual proposing clearance revocation, citing specific concerns under Guidelines: E (Personal Conduct, I (Psychological Conditions), and J (Criminal Conduct). From what I could piece together on the case, this contractor had anger issues and during his previous marriage to his ex-spouse in 2009 he was arrested and charged for domestic violence related offenses. These anger issues also manifested themselves during a 2015 road rage incident in which he threatened another driver with a tire iron and was subsequently arrested for drunk and disorderly.

In 2015 he met a waitress (half his age) at a local restaurant and started helping her out financially to get her through some lean times. After she lost her job at the restaurant he “hired” her to run errands, and eventually the relationship turned sexual. At one point he allowed her to tie him up naked in a chair and she took pictures, which she subsequently sent to him via text messages threatening to make them public unless he gave her more money. He contacted the local police and filed a complaint against her and got her arrested, then ended up giving her more money to pay her rent because “he “couldn’t live without her”. To add another twist to this story, he was already $60k in debt on his credit cards when all of this transpired. The DOE psychiatrist provided testimony that the individual had impaired judgement in several areas of his life and that he viewed himself as the girlfriend’s “savior”.

The DOE Office of Appeals Judge was not sympathetic to his claims of just trying to be a good Samaritan by helping the girlfriend out, especially when, as a current clearance holder, he didn’t report any of this information to his employer as required. Additionally, there were many discrepancies between this individual’s version of the circumstances and events that led to all of these troubles, versus what other sources and witnesses conveyed. Needless to say, none of the issues cited in the LON were mitigated and his clearance was revoked. Go to this link if you want to read the entire case summary.


  1. I have a question. I was arrested and charged for Aggravated Assault DV. I did not do this and I was not found guilty. The case was dismissed and expunged from my crimimal record (which is squeaky clean BTW) and when I run my background check, it does not show up at all. Will this affect my ability to renew my public trust clearance?

  2. It should not impact suitability for public trust if as you say, it was dropped, dismissed, or you were found not guilty.

  3. Shouldn’t it still be documented since he was arrested and charged?

  4. That was not the question. Of course if it is required to disclose based on the questions on the SF-85P regardless of disposition, then he should do so.

  5. Interesting, the SF-85p, unlike the SF-86, does not have specific language requiring the disclosure of expunged charges. Can you shed any light on this, @Marko ?

  6. It asks if you have been arrested in the last 7 years. Regardless of final disposition, if you were arrested it is required to disclose that information.

  7. Correct, I understand that @Marko . My concern is that the difference in wording between the two documents may lead some to reasonably believe that they are not required to list an expunged charge on the sf-85p when looking at both documents. In my state for example, lawyers constantly advise clients that unless there is specific wording on an application requiring disclosure of an expunged charge (i.e. SF-86) to not disclose.

  8. Once again, were you arrested? That is the trouble with lawyers, they are constantly looking for loopholes.

  9. I get where you are coming from, really, I do. I just don’t understand why OPM wouldn’t include that verbage in the 85p to avoid confusion… If that question alone is sufficient, as you say, then why include the extra stuff about expunged records on the 86 @Marko ? Being able to draw more than one inference from a question is grounds for a legitimate defense to a guideline E along with advice of counsel. What I’m trying to get at is the government could avoid all ambiguity by being consistent on both forms…

  10. There are also additional questions that will be discussed during the interview that were not on the SF-85P. Some of those questions may require the subject to discuss arrests that occurred under an "ever’ timeframe. The SF-85P is well overdue for an update.