Democrat-tied research firm improperly acquired personnel files of 11 service members: lawmakers
Alarmed by breach, powerful committee chairmen demand answers. Confidential files included one of GOP candidate who had been sexually assaulted in military.
In an unprecedented breach, the Air Force improperly released to a research firm tied to Democrats' congressional campaign arm the confidential personnel files of eleven members of the military, including one involving a retired lieutenant colonel running for office as a Republican that detailed how she had been sexually assaulted in the Air Force, Congress has been told.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer are demanding that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin explain how he will prevent future breaches of military members' private information while pressing to know if there will be criminal prosecutions.
You can read the full letter here:
"The Office of the Secretary of the Air Force (OSAF) has informed the Committee that it released 11 individuals' records over a 14-month period from October 2021-December 2022 to a private research firm which allegedly misrepresented itself in order to obtain access to the personnel records without authorization or consent," Rogers and Comer wrote in a Feb. 13 letter to Austin.
The Air Force has already acknowledged having "inappropriately released" the official military personnel files (OMPF) "of former Republican Congressional candidate Jennifer-Ruth Green to the very same research firm, Due Diligence Group (DDG)," the lawmakers noted. "That disclosure served to revictimize a servicemember by releasing details about her sexual assault."
In January, Green received a letter from acting Compliance Division Chief William J. Alexander Jr. acknowledging that her records were released "without proper redaction."
"We found that your information was released by the Air Force [Personnel] Center to a third-party ('Due Diligence'), a private company specializing in public record research without your consent via a SF-180 request,” he wrote.
The release of additional service members' personal information highlights "not only the inadequacy of procedures to secure military personnel files, but also raises concerning questions of possible illicit motive or political partisanship," Rogers and Comer wrote.
"This conduct by the Air Force is, at a minimum, unacceptable," they declared. "The conduct by the research firm is quite possibly criminal."
Rogers told Just the News much more needs to be investigated. “It’s abhorrent that a Democrat-aligned firm would do something so despicable as fraudulently obtaining service records. Chairman James Comer and I pressed the Department of Defense for answers on this egregious breach,” he said.
”The U.S. Air Force failed to protect servicemembers’ records and we will investigate what went wrong.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has paid more than $100,000 to the Due Diligence Group since 2021, according to data from OpenSecrets.org.
According to the Due Diligence Group (DDG) official website, the company specializes in "using public records research to provide our clients with the knowledge and insights needed to drive strategic decision making." The company provides its services for political campaigns, marketing firms and businesses large and small.
"We'll utilize our expertise in [Freedom of Information Act] and local public record laws to get you the knowledge you need," the official website states.
The DCCC did not respond to requests for comment by email or phone calls to its office.
The Due Diligence Group did not respond to requests by phone and its Web site for comment on the Comer/Rogers letter about the company improperly accessing personnel records of military members.