The estranged wife of state Rep. Andy Patrick said she refused Thursday to sign a confidentiality agreement presented to her by a Central Intelligence Agency agent that would have prevented further disclosure of sensitive information surrounding the Patricks' divorce case.
Patrick's wife, Amee, was contacted earlier this week by an FBI agent and asked to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday at the FBI's second-floor suite in an office building on Clarks Summit Drive in Bluffton. She said she asked her lawyer, Lauren Martel of Hilton Head Island, to accompany her.
Amee Patrick said she assumed the FBI agent, George French, wanted her "to provide a statement of some kind." Instead, she said, French told her when she arrived that his role was "to convey to me who I would be meeting with."
"We walked in a room and were asked to take a seat and to turn off any electronic devices," Amee Patrick said. Then "we were introduced to an individual who walked in and showed us his ID . . . . It was in a navy blue, leather foldover type case," she said.
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The man identified himself as a CIA agent -- Amee Patrick understood his last name to be Yates or Yaetes -- who said he had flown in from Washington. The agent told her that " 'we at the CIA are not interested in the divorce,' " she said. But "he made it clear" that the CIA wanted an end to public discussion about possible connections between Andy Patrick and the agency.
Details about such a connection are recounted in an affidavit Amee Patrick has filed in Beaufort County Family Court. In the affidavit, she states that money from the CIA was channeled to operatives outside the U.S. through Andy Patrick's Hilton Head security company, Advance Point Global. Information in the affidavit -- and from court hearings, public records and interviews -- has been published by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette when it had a bearing on his role as a public servant.
At Thursday morning's meeting, the CIA agent told Amee Patrick he would share information with her "that would be to your benefit" if she would sign an agreement promising not to disclose more sensitive information, she said.
Amee Patrick possesses such information because she copied documents kept in her husband's files in their former home. She already has turned over some of it to the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service. Patrick was an agent for the Secret Service before he resigned in 2007 and started Advance Point Global.
Amee Patrick's account of the meeting with the CIA agent was verified by Martel, her attorney, who joined her.
"He (the CIA agent) said, 'I have some information and I believe you will benefit from this information,' " Amee Patrick said in an interview Thursday afternoon. To get the information, however, she was told she would have to first sign a non-disclosure agreement.
She said she refused.
"I didn't sign it and clearly that didn't make him happy," Amee Patrick said. "I didn't sign it because I don't want to lose my voice."
About that time, a second FBI agent came into the room and the CIA agent and the first FBI agent left.
Moments later the CIA agent returned and told Amee Patrick that "I could have two hours to reconsider and then he would be flying back to Washington," she said.
"He flew down here for a 30-minute meeting with me to sign the statement and I didn't do it," she said.
Andy Patrick's lawyer, Doug Brannon of Spartanburg, had a similar meeting with two CIA agents in Columbia earlier this month, according to statements Brannon made during a hearing in Beaufort County Family Court on Feb. 19. Brannon said he and Andy Patrick did sign the confidentiality agreement presented to them by the agents but were not allowed to make copies of it.
Andy Patrick has declined to discuss allegations in his wife's affidavit.
On Thursday night, speaking to a crowd at a Sun City Hilton Head Republican Club meeting, he did not address any of the issues that have attracted the attention of government officials.
"Now it is time for me to exit the stage of public life and do something different," he said, adding that he did not know what his next venture will be.
"I need to earn a living, and I plan to remain engaged in public discourse," he said after the meeting, during which he talked about education reform bills pending in the state House of Representatives.
Patrick, R-Hilton Head, said he had scheduled the speaking engagement after announcing his candidacy for state superintendent of education. Since then, he has pulled of that race and also said that he will not run for re-election to his House seat when his term ends later this year.
Staff writer Dan Burley contributed to this story.