With all the news about the peccadilloes of the Secret Service I have to add my favorites story.  While at our embassy in Helsinki, Finland I had to handle the visit of then Secretary of the Treasury Donald Reagan and Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to attend a financial conference there.  Having worked on several US Presidential visits I was amazed at the entourage of Secret Service agents who came to prepare for the Secretary and the Chairman’s visit.  I asked one agent, “why so many agents?”  He replied, “Because he is our boss.”

Indeed, the Secret Service was then housed in the Treasury Department since it was originally created to guard our currency, i.e. stop counterfeiters.  How it got the job of guarding the president is a mystery but I suspect it was because the Treasury is next door to the White House.  The Service is now part of the Department of Homeland Security.

During their preparations for Reagan’s visit one of the younger agents told me he had the weekend off and wanted to know how to pass the time.  I told him by sheer chance he was there during Finland’s brief summer and suggested he go to the beach.   A week or so later he came to me and said he heard I was a horse racing fan and that I went to the Helsinki track.  He wanted to go so I told him to meet me the next Saturday, which was the only race day in Helsinki, at the club house in the track and I would show him the ropes about betting there.

Saturday came and my young agent friend appeared at the club house with a spectacular young lady on his arm.  I asked him where he had met her.  He replied, “At the beach.”  To which I replied, “You owe me one.”

Well the Secretary and Chairman came, attended their conference, and left.  I got to talk to the two men and asked Chairman Volcker the question of the day, “Mr. Volcker. when will you lower the Fed rate?”  You see, he had put such tight screws on credit that home loans had risen to over 15% interest.  He replied, “When conditions allow,” which meant when the high inflation rate receded.

A month or two later I got a phone call in my office.  A voice from Washington asked, “Leo, have you seen Agent Jones?”  the agent who I had sent to the beach and accompanied at the track.   I replied, “No.”  The voice continued, “Do you know where he is since he has not returned home?”  I replied, “I don’t know where he is but I have a pretty good idea about who he is with.”

Jones never returned to his job, wife, family and home in Washington.  And he never contacted me again.  I sometimes think about where he might be, but never wonder about who he is with.