By Geneva Sands - 04/17/12 05:41 PM EDT
"Where do we start? Disgust, embarrassment. It's a very small fraternity of Secret Service agents, former and active. It's a very small agency," he said on CBS "This Morning" Tuesday.
Eleven agents were taken off their assignment in Colombia and put on leave following allegations of involvement with prostitutes ahead of President Obama's trip to the Cartagena last weekend. At least five U.S. military service members may also be involved, and Pentagon officials say the actual number could be higher.
Bongino, who was a special agent with the Secret Service, won the Republican primary in Maryland on April 3 and will now face off against incumbent Democrat Sen. Benjamin Cardin in the general election.
"It was an awful decision. The only thing we can take from this is nobody, and I mean nobody, is trying … to put lipstick on this, at all," Bongino said.
The candidate said he agreed with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey's remarks on the situation that "we let the boss down."
“Several of our members distracted the issue from what was a very important regional engagement for our president,” Dempsey said at a Pentagon press conference Monday. “Nobody is talking about what went on in Colombia other than this incident.”
Bongino told CBS that during his time with the Secret Service he never came across a similar situation, but admitted that it has likely happened on more than one occasion.
"I've never seen it personally. Has it happened before? I'm sure it has. Is it endemic to the entire agency? No," he said. "It's really sad that this is going to tarnish the Secret Service image."
The Huffington Post is reporting that one of the agents on the trip is Bongino's brother, Joe, but that he was "not a part of the prostitution investigation." The Hill has contacted the candidate's campaign, with no immediate response.
The Senate hopeful pointed out that the location of Cartagena, a city known for its nightlife, might have contributed to the actions of the agents. "People do stupid things. It was terrible. I mean there's really no squaring this circle," he added.
There are several investigations into the incident, including one by the House Homeland Security Committee, as well a military inquiry.
"I think a statement is going to be made, you're going to see some dramatic rule changes in the Secret Service," Bongino said.
This post was updated at 3:04 p.m.