The unauthorized disclosure of U.S. military personnel records by the Air Force to an opposition research firm funded by Democrats is now under investigation by the House “Weaponization Committee.”
Leading the charge are Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), a former Air Force pilot. They sent a letter on Thursday to the military branch’s top official seeking various documents and communications, The Daily Wire can reveal.
“To advance our oversight and to inform potential legislative reforms, we write to request information about this serious breach of our servicemembers’ personal information,” the congressmen wrote.
The House Judiciary Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government “are investigating the mass collection and dissemination of information about American citizens by federal agencies,” they added.
At issue are revelations starting last fall when POLITICO published a profile of Indiana GOP House candidate Jennifer-Ruth Green, which revealed she had been sexually assaulted while in the military. The candidate, who ultimately lost her race, told Fox News the information used for the report was illegally obtained.
An Air Force audit found “there was an unauthorized release of military duty information on 11 individuals” after “employees did not follow proper procedures requiring the member’s authorizing signature consenting to the release of information,” service spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told The Daily Wire. Two members of Congress — Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Zach Nunn (R-IA) — divulged that their records were among those leaked between October 2021 and October 2022.
Some Republican leaders have already requested information from the Defense Department.
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), an Air Force veteran, said she has reason to believe her records were also leaked, and predicted there will be a criminal investigation.
The USAF, after admitting that records of service members were wrongfully obtained, just let me know that they will need until 3/17 to give us the information we requested. Today was the deadline. The USAF leaked information of USAF candidates in the 2022 midterms to a DEMOCRAT… https://t.co/toXBoPEojZ
— Anna Paulina Luna (@realannapaulina) February 27, 2023
Maj. Gen. Troy Dunn, commander of the Air Force Personnel Center, sent a letter to Bacon stating that Abraham Payton, identified as an analyst with a research firm called Due Diligence LLC, “inappropriately requested copies of your military personnel records for the stated purpose of employment and benefits” and had possession of Bacon’s social security number at the time of the request.
POLITICO reported that Payton is a former research director for the Democratic political group American Bridge. The report also said Federal Election Commission records show the Due Diligence Group, which claims to “specialize in using public records research to provide our clients with the knowledge and insights needed to drive strategic decision making,” received a little over $110,000 between January 2021 and December 2022 from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
As of now, there is no indication that the DCCC coordinated with the Due Diligence Group to obtain the records. And it wasn’t immediately clear whether Due Diligence was behind all the requests that led to the 11 unauthorized disclosures, though Republican lawmakers have said Green’s information was released to the same group and the Air Force told POLITICO that “virtually all” of the 11 disclosures were made to an individual “who represented himself as a background investigator seeking service records for employment purposes.”
Stefanek, the Air Force spokeswoman, insisted there was “no evidence of political motivation or malicious intent on the part of any employee” at the service. The Air Force “takes full responsibility for releasing the personally identifiable information of these individuals,” she added. “Records-release procedures have been improved by elevating the approval level for release of information to third parties and conducting intensified retraining for personnel who handle record requests.”
Still, “OSAF may have violated Department of Defense policies and federal law,” Jordan and Stewart wrote in their letter. “While the Air Force has rightfully taken responsibility for these inappropriate OMPF [Official Military Personnel Files] disclosures, questions remain unanswered about the U.S. Air Force’s collection, maintenance, and dissemination of this sensitive information.”
Jordan and Stewart requested from Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall a slew of documents and communications, including those related to Due Diligence Group dating back to the beginning of 2021. 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.”
The lawmakers set a deadline of 5 p.m. on March 30.
The Air Force informed The Daily Wire it has “received several requests for information based on the unauthorized release and will respond as quickly as possible.”
The Daily Wire also reached out to the Due Diligence Group and the DCCC seeking comment on the new letter.
This report has been updated with comment from the Air Force.