The Air Force improperly leaked private and confidential information about a Republican candidate being sexually assaulted while she was serving in the military.
The Air Force has admitted responsibility for information about Indiana House candidate Jennifer Ruth-Green’s sexual assault being improperly leaked to an opposition research firm and subsequently handed to a Politico reporter.
“Based on the preliminary findings of an investigation, it appears information was released to a third party by a junior individual who didn’t follow proper procedures and obtain required consent,” Ann Stefanek, chief of media operations at the Air Force, said in a statement to The Hill on Wednesday. “The Department of the Air Force takes its responsibility to safeguard private information seriously and the matter remains under investigation.”
Before the admission, Indiana Reps. Jim Banks and Larry Bucshon had released a joint statement calling for the Air Force to admit fault in the matter.
“The Air Force improperly affected a competitive House race and must provide transparency before election day,” the statement said. “We are calling on the Air Force to publicly take responsibility for mishandling Lt Col Green’s service records. Additionally, before the midterm election, the Air Force should release any information it has regarding the financial relationship between the DCCC and the opposition research firm that sent confidential records to Politico’s Adam Wren to smear a servicemember who happens to be running for public office.”
The congressmen added that the Air Force had taken responsibility in a call the previous day, and that they had identified the leaker.
“On yesterday’s call, the Air Force took full responsibility for improperly releasing Lt. Col Green’s confidential personnel records to an opposition research firm just weeks before the midterm election,” the statement said. “Lt. Gen. Davis informed us that the leaker has been identified and will be held accountable.”
The Politico report detailed that in 2009, “an Iraqi serviceman sexually assaulted [Green] by grabbing her breast and exposing himself” when “she and a small group of officers visited the national training center.”
Green told Politico that when she reported the assault she faced retaliation, including having her career “intentionally derailed.” She also asked the outlet not to publish details about the assault, a request that went ignored.
“I’m a survivor of sexual trauma in the military, and I am being forced to discuss it publicly for the first time because Congressman Mrvan or his supporters obtained — either illegally or by egregious error — military records describing my sexual assault as well as performance reviews, and peddled those records to the media with the intent smear me and my military career …,” Green said in a statement to Politico.
Though her opponent, Rep. Frank Mrvan, has denied involvement in the leak, Green’s campaign isn’t buying it.
“The walls are closing in on Congressman Mrvan,” Kevin Hansberger, Green’s communications director, said in a statement to The Hill.
“He denied any involvement in obtaining and leaking Jennifer-Ruth Green’s military records. Now we know the Air Force did release documents illegally to a Democrat opposition research firm. And we know what firm it was and we know they work for the DCCC … which has been coordinating so closely with Frank Mrvan that every ad he’s aired in this race they split the cost of. To believe Mrvan and his cronies didn’t know is laughable. There is more to come.”