Security Clearance Denial

Drug Use and Criminal Conduct by Family Member Results in Clearance Denial

Under national security adjudicative guidelines family members or cohabitants living with you who are engaging in criminal activity can pose a risk to your ability to obtain or retain a security clearance. A Department of Energy (DOE) contractor found this out recently when the administrative judge denied her appeal requesting reinstatement of her clearance. Here are the particulars of the case:

This DOE contractor had two sons (one of whom still lived with her) who both had a history of illegal drug use and trafficking. One of her sons was arrested, charged and convicted of eight felonies related to the distribution and sale of cocaine. The kicker is, the son was subsequently arrested for parole violation (possession of cocaine) in the front yard of the contractor’s home. This information was reported by other community members to the local security office and as a result, the contractor was called in for an interview. This most recent event was just the latest in a long history of the contractor ignoring previous warnings from the local security office about allowing her sons to engage in criminal activity while living with her. Her claims about not knowing they were engaged in illegal drug activity did not hold water, especially when the police found evidence of drug making paraphernalia in the house. The contractor was also charged for conspiracy since the evidence was found in her house.

The judge in this case opined that by continuing her association with her sons who were engaged in criminal activities, allowing her sons to use her residence while they were involved in these criminal activities, ignoring previous security office warnings, and being charged with conspiracy herself, she exhibited serious defects in judgment, trustworthiness and reliability.

The moral of this story? If you are a clearance holder or applicant, don’t turn the other cheek on criminal activity or have any association with the perpetrators, even if they are close family members.


  1. I have to believe that the biggest issue here was her failure to take any real and serious action. It seems to me that she exhibited an indifference to the activity of her children and that this is what resulted in both the charges and the revocation of her clearance.

    I find it difficult to believe that a judge would expect her to sever ties with her children, despite their age, if she had been making a good faith effort to help them clean up their act.

  2. This is an instance where I agree with “family association and criminal conduct” being an issue for clearance holders. If you are around drug use/sales whether it be family or not, you shouldn’t be holding a clearance. Just because they are your family doesn’t mean you aren’t held to the same standard as other clearance holders.
    -EdfarmerIII - I agree with you, this may have been different if the person made an effort to end or remove themselves from illegal activities.

  3. Yup, I agree with the judge’s ruling. Clean up House.

  4. I am currently competing for a position within the IC which obviously requires a TS/SCI. During the polygraph phase I was asked about drug use, to which I admitted (also on my SF86) of use over 10 years ago when I was a kid (marijuana experimentation less than 10 times total). They asked asked about people I associate with doing drugs. I told them my girlfriend occasionally used marijuana socially, and not regularly (once every few months at the time). She has since stopped socially using marijuana, and does not associate with the people she used it with - for over a year. She never bought, possessed personally, or did any of this around me, and never in my house.

    All of this information was relayed to the organization which I am applying. In the opinion of those who are familiar with the adjudication process, would you consider this a potentially disqualifying issue? Or have the circumstances been mitigated to a point where they are a concern, but not damning.