House Weaponization Committee Launches Probe into Air Force Leaking Service Members’ Private Records
Zach Nunn U.S. Congress
Republicans on the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government have launched a probe into Air Force personnel leaking private military records of former and current service members who are either Republican members of Congress or ran as candidates.
Subcommittee member Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall demanding information on the unauthorized breaches of their military records without their knowledge or consent.
Two of those former service members included two Republican lawmakers, Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Zach Nunn (R-IA).
Republican candidates who had their records disclosed included Sam Peters, a Republican who ran against Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) and Kevin Dellicker, who ran against Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA).
Their records were reportedly released to a man named Abraham Payton with a Democrat-linked opposition research firm called the Due Diligence Group that received money from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), according to Politico. Payton was the former research director for Democrat group American Bridge.
The disclosures were discovered after the Air Force inspector general investigated the disclosure of records revealing the military sexual assault of Republican candidate Jennifer Ruth-Green, an Air National Guard member, to Politico. Ruth-Green had run against Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-IN).
Payton had reportedly claimed he was seeking the records for employment and benefit purposes.
Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek told the outlet that “virtually all” of the 11 unapproved releases were made to the same third party “who represented himself as a background investigator seeking service records for employment purposes.”
He also attempted to get records from the Army National Guard on Colin Schmitt, who is currently serving in the New York National Guard and who ran against Rep. Pat Ryan (D-NY), according to Politico.
Jordan and Stewart wrote to Kendall:
In late February 2023, media reports highlighted how the [Office of the Secretary of the Air Force] improperly disclosed Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) of 11 servicemembers without appropriate authorization or lawful consent. The OSAF reportedly released the personnel files of at least two Members of Congress to an opposition research firm that received money from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Subsequent reporting indicated that the OSAF’s dissemination of sensitive personal information may have affected more than just these 11 individuals. In doing so, OSAF may have violated Department of Defense policies and federal law.
They added that while the Air force has rightfully taken responsibility for the inappropriate breaches, questions remain unanswered.
They demanded all documents and communications referring or relating to the U.S. Air Force’s disclosure of OMPFs to the Due Diligence Group, excluding the contents of the OMPFs themselves, for the period of January 1, 2021, to the present.
They also demanded all documents and communications referring or relating to any request made by the Due Diligence Group for OMPFs for the period of January 1, 2021, to the present.
They also asked for a complete list of names of current or former OSAF employees involved in or responsible for the improper release of OMPFs for the period of January 1, 2021, to the present, as well as any administrative or disciplinary action(s) taken against them.
They requested the information by 5 p.m. ET on March 30, 2023.
Stewart tweeted on Thursday: “My proudest years were spent defending our great nation in the Air Force. It’s a shame to see this sacred branch of our government weaponized, but we will right this wrong. @JudiciaryGOP will demand accountability to you, The People.”
My proudest years were spent defending our great nation in the Air Force.
It’s a shame to see this sacred branch of our government weaponized, but we will right this wrong.@JudiciaryGOP will demand accountability to you, The People.https://t.co/GHNkLSrU1e
— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) March 16, 2023