There is an interesting development in the unauthorized release of confidential sexual assault files involving Indiana GOP candidate Lt. Col. Jennifer-Ruth Green. According to two members of Congress, the Air Force confirmed that the records were leaked just before the midterm elections and now knows who did it.
Green has attracted national attention in a surprisingly competitive race against an incumbent Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan. The race has Democrats so worried that the Congressional Black Caucus took the controversial step of backing her white opponent despite a stated purpose of being “a non-partisan body made up of African American members of Congress” committed to achieving “access to Black Americans and other marginalized communities.” (Notably, this week, GOP Rep. Mayra Flores was barred from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus).
A spokesperson for the Air Force inspector general, Ann Stefanek, Chief of Media Operations, Department of the Air Force, told Fox News:
“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. The Department of the Air Force takes its responsibility to safeguard private information seriously and the matter remains under investigation.”
Obviously, this could have been a simple act of negligence by the Air Force member. Nevertheless, the violation by the Air Force should obviously concern everyone regardless of party affiliation, particularly before a critically important midterm election. One question is the affiliation or motivation of the person seeking these files.
The controversy began when Politico reporter Adam Wren ran a profile article on Green and incorporated the personnel records, which Politico claimed “were obtained by a public records request and provided to Politico by a person outside the Mrvan campaign.” The article detailed how Green was sexually assaulted by an Iraqi man while she was deployed. Green says that she never signed any waiver or permission for the release of her records under the Privacy Act of 1974.
The question is who is this “person outside of the Mrvan campaign” and whether that person was with an opposition research effort or other political operation. Presumably, Politico would have reported if the source was with a partisan operation allied with Mrvan. However, this controversy demands full transparency on such key elements.
Despite being a Democratic stronghold for 90 years, the 1st District is now viewed as a “toss up.”