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U.S. Air Force improperly released service records of GOP candidate to DCCC-linked research firm

“Had this story not come out, it’s likely I'd have won by a point,” J. R. Majewski said of the impact of the improperly-disclosed data upon which Associated Press articles were based had on his 2022 campaign results.

Published: December 4, 2023 11:00pm

The Air Force improperly released service records of a GOP Ohio congressional candidate during his 2022 race, which was then used against his campaign, which he believes led to his election loss. 

The service records of at least a dozen service members were improperly released to a research firm from October 2021 to December 2022, and were used in some instances against GOP congressional candidates. 

Air Force veteran J. R. Majewski’s service records – including his DD Form 214 (discharge record) and non-judicial punishment record – were improperly released by the Air Force to the Due Diligence Group, (DDG), a research firm that has been used by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, leading up to his 2022 Ohio congressional election.

The website for Due Diligence Group does not disclose ownership or a client list, and claims to use Freedom of Information Act and public records laws to obtain documents "to drive strategic decision making." It is not clear whether DDG did anything improper, or instead if the USAF independently failed to follow established guidelines for such disclosures.

Majewski told Just the News on Thursday that the researcher for DDG who requested the release of his service records should have “never” filled out Standard Form 180, but instead, should have filled out a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. 

Under FOIA, the records of a veteran that may be obtained are “Name, Service Number, Dates of Service, Branch of Service, Final Duty Status, Final Rank, Salary, Assignments and Geographical Locations, Source of Commission, Military Education Level, Promotion Sequence Number, Awards and decorations (eligibility only, not actual medals), Photograph, Transcript of Courts-Martial Trials, and Place of entrance and separation,” according to the National Archives and Records Administration

According to the SF-180 forms, the requester of Majewski’s service forms, Abraham Payton of DDG, described himself as a “Background Investigation Analyst.” 

Majewski explained that the form says the requester must “have permission of the veteran” to ask for their service records. However, Majewski said that Payton didn’t ask for his permission to request the information. 

In March, Majewski received a letter from the Air Force, explaining that “the Air Force Personnel Center Military Records Branch received multiple requests” in June 2022 from Payton for Majewski’s “military personnel records. 

“He inappropriately requested copies of your military personnel records for the stated purpose of employment and benefits,” the letter continued, noting that Payton had Majewski’s Social Security Number for the request. 

The Air Force added that Majewski’s DD Form 214 and military personnel records were released to Payton “which included Personal Identifiable Information (PII), without your permission, which is protected under the Privacy Act of 1974.” 

The military branch also wrote that an “investigation and internal audit” found “there was no criminal action or malicious intent by the employee in the records branch,” but that they had been held “accountable for failing to follow proper administrative procedures with the release of your records.” 

The Air Force concluded by explaining that their policies and practices were reviewed and updated to include “higher level review, additional security checks, and tighter process controls to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.” 

After Majewski’s service records were improperly released, they were published online less than two months before the election. 

In late September 2022, the Associated Press ran stories about Majewski’s military record, claiming that he “misrepresented” his service record and providing copies of his DD Form 214 and non-judicial punishment record that Majewski didn’t give them. 

The AP reported that Majewski “ran a Facebook ad promoting himself as ‘combat veteran,’” and claimed it was “misleading” because the term doesn’t mean that he had engaged in combat. 

Majewski told Just the News that “being a combat veteran doesn't mean I saw combat.” He said his campaign explained to the AP when they requested comment from him for the story that he actively served in a combat zone and received imminent danger pay, which qualifies him as a combat veteran, according to VA IB10-438

The AP also mentioned that Majewski didn't receive a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, which was issued to service members who deployed abroad on or after 9/11 in the War on Terror. However, this past September, the Air Force corrected Majewski's service record to include the medal.

“Had this story not come out, it’s likely I'd have won by a point,” Majewski said of the impact the AP articles had on his 2022 race. “My professional career is ruined,” he told Just the News. 

CNN mentioned Majewski in a January article, reporting that “the House GOP’s campaign arm eventually cut off spending for him in the district after revelations about him misrepresenting his military record.” The article also mentioned that Majewski lost to his opponent, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, by 13 points. 

Majewski, who is running for the same Ohio congressional seat in the 2024 election that he lost last year, is one of several Air Force veterans whose service records were improperly released. 

In February, Congress members said the Air Force found that service records of 11 other military members were improperly released to DDG. 

One of those servicemembers was former GOP congressional candidate Jennifer-Ruth Green. Green was a victim of sexual assault while serving in the Air Force, and the details of the assault were improperly released to DDG and then sent to and reported by Politico. 

DDG has been paid more than $100,000 by the DCCC since 2021, according to data from OpenSecrets.org

The AP told Just the News on Monday, "The Associated Press stands by its reporting."

DDG, the DCCC, and the Air Force didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

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