Leaked Military Records of GOP Candidates Goes Largely Ignored by Mainstream Media

Master Sergeant Cecilio Ricardo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Last year just before the midterm elections, a GOP candidate had her military records inappropriately released to an opposition researcher. While seemingly innocuous, the leak of her documents outed her as a military sexual assault survivor, forcing her to relive her trauma publicly before an election that was picking up momentum.

This story received a minor blip in the mainstream media, and the reality of what happened is far worse than what most of the public realizes. Luckily, the Republican Party’s control of the House of Representatives means that an investigation is underway, but what will happen to the guilty parties if anything remains to be seen.

So for those of you who haven’t heard of this story, particularly fellow veterans, allow me to break down this alarming situation and what it more than likely illustrates about our military and the cutthroat political campaign environment.

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Where is the #MeToo Movement?

Last October, Politico released sealed information about then-Indiana GOP candidate Jennifer-Ruth Green in an expose on the breakthrough candidate. The information outed Ms. Green as a military sexual assault survivor, forcing her to comment in perhaps the most public way possible on a personal trauma before she was ready to do so.

When Ms. Green bit back at this egregious infringement of her personal life and military records, the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Politico, Brad Dayspring, claimed that her records were “publicly available documents that can be obtained by a standard FOIA request.” Except that’s not true, military member’s personnel records require a signed statement of permission from the service member in question.

Spoiler alert, Ms. Green never gave permission, let alone had the opportunity to provide consent in the first place. As Ms. Green said of this violation of her rights, “It’s unacceptable for every vet, it’s unacceptable for every woman, and it’s unacceptable for anyone who has ever been a victim of sexual assault.”

You can imagine the #MeToo movement flooded social media and the streets to protest this assault on a fellow woman’s privacy and re-victimization. But wait a second, she’s a Republican, so her trauma apparently doesn’t matter.

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How Did This Happen?

So how did Ms. Green’s records end up in the hands of a reporter at Politico in the first place? They said they received it from someone who claimed to get it through appropriate FOIA requests. 

And who was this master of information gathering? Abraham Payton from Due Diligence Group, an organization that, according to their website, provides the following service, “Whether you are a political campaign, marketing firm, small business, or Fortune 500 company, we’ll utilize our expertise in FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and local public record laws to get you the knowledge you need.”

It’s also important to note that Mr. Payton had been the research director at the Democratic Party’s largest opposition research group at one point. Using his access to member’s social security numbers, which is still unclear how he obtained those, he convinced the Air Force to release military personnel records to him in what appears to be an attempted political hit job.

The Air Force admits that “Air Force employees did not follow proper procedures” regarding releasing Ms. Green’s records and those of 10 other veteran Congressmen and candidates. Still, they claimed, “there was no evidence of political motivation or malicious intent.”

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Follow the Money

In addition to Ms. Green, ten other veterans had their records released without their knowledge, let alone permission to this Due Diligence Group representative, including then-candidates Sam Peters and Kevin Dellicker and Congressmen Zack Nunn and Congressman Don Bacon.

Congressman Nunn said “The recent targeting of member of Congress’s personnel military records, the breach of sensitive data, and the duplicitous forgery taken by political hacks isn’t only a violation of public trust – it’s criminal.”

Think about that for a second, a branch of the Department of Defense released private military records without getting the proper permission from the veterans in question. Whether with malicious intent or due to massive incompetence, this should worry all of us veterans who are meant to trust the institution we gave so much of our lives to.

But this web of deceit gets much stickier the deeper you dive. Due Diligence Group was paid over $110,000 from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and $173,000 from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). One has to wonder if the DCCC and DSCC were paying this group to get their hands on this information to exploit the careers of veteran candidates.

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Lip Service

Congressman Bacon explains the severity of this betrayal, saying that “Knowing that this third party, paid by the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee, was able to obtain my social security number and fraudulently use it to obtain my military records is concerning not only for myself and the other ten affected but to every single veteran.”

Indeed, to break it down, this situation highlights some, if not all, of the below possibilities:

  • the DOD is inept at protecting our information
  • the DOD is politicized and willing to give up our information 
  • the Democratic Party is willing to pay for private, illicitly received information on veterans

Ms. Green said of her military sexual assault, “After reporting my assault against the advice of officials in my command, my career was intentionally derailed.” Far too many of us faced this reality in our military careers, and it would appear her reporting her assault also derailed her campaign.

The Air Force claims that the employee who committed this act was punished according to “proper administrative procedures.” Those of us who served know what that means, nothing. 

The only acceptable and proper procedure would be termination of employment, and I would bet dollars to donuts that didn’t happen. But as usual, the Air Force has yet to say precisely what they did because transparency isn’t something our government believes in.

In the Politico piece on Ms. Green, an Air Force spokesperson said, “We remain committed to building a culture of respect, where sexual assault and harassment are not tolerated in any form, and we will do this by supporting victims and prosecuting offenders through the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” I would argue your commitment to a culture of respect and supporting victims is lacking, given how you blasted Ms. Green’s information without regard for her rights. 

I suppose that’s her own fault; she never should’ve reported it in the first place and was asking for it; after all, she’s a Republican. Isn’t that right, #MeToo?

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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