The U.S. Air Force has admitted that it improperly released the military records of a further two GOP candidates to a Democratic-aligned research firm in an issue that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said is “not going to go away quietly.”
In a letter last Friday obtained by Politico, the Air Force informed House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) that an internal audit confirmed nine people’s records were “released without authority” to the Due Diligence Group between 2021 and 2023.
“During the two-year period covered by the timeline in your letter, AFPC received a total of 19,597 requests for records,” the letter read. “AFPC also initiated a separate audit of all third-party requests received between early 2021 and early 2023. That audit identified a total of 11 individuals who had their military records released without proper authority.”
According to the letter, seven of the disclosed records affected GOP candidates running for office in 2022. Among them, five had already been made public, while a further two have just been confirmed. The first is J.R. Majewski, an Ohio candidate who faced campaign-trail scrutiny for embellishing part of his military record. The other is Robert “Eli” Bremer, who lost in last year’s GOP primary race to take on Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).
Due Diligence obtained the records of two serving congressmen, including Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE.) and Zach Nunn (R-IO). Both representatives have called on the GOP to conduct a more extensive investigation into whether the requests for their records amounted to illegal activity.
“I understand the evidence has been turned over to the Department of Justice and I expect those who break the law to be prosecuted,” Bacon previously told Politico. “This was more than just ‘dirty tricks’ by Democrat operatives, but likely violations of the law.”
“This isn’t going to go away quietly,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy added on Monday. “It wasn’t on just one person. It was all these Republicans running. We’re gonna have to just not clamp down on that, [but] look to see if it’s happened anywhere else.”
A number of GOP lawmakers have called on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to clarify any involvement it may have had in the military record inquiries. Federal Election Commission records indicate that between January 2021 and December 2022, the DCCC paid Due Diligence a little over $110,000. Additionally, during that same time frame, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee paid Due Diligence just over $172,000.
However, the issue was played down by The House Democratic campaign arm’s executive director, Julie Merz, who said in a statement: “Public records requests are a standard part of the research process. Republican and Democratic campaigns and organizations file hundreds of requests for information from government agencies every cycle.”
She went on to call it “the height of hypocrisy for MAGA Republicans to use the guise of a congressional investigation on [sic] mistakes the US Air Force has publicly acknowledged to target their political opponents.”
Meanwhile, the Air Force Personnel Center has said it will take steps to secure records: “Since the AFPC audit was conducted, the Department of Air Force has taken a number of concrete steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” the letter read. “An Air Force Office of Special Investigations review is ongoing.”
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