Business & Lobbying

Ex-CIA House candidate accuses GOP super PAC of obtaining her security application

Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer running for Congress as a Democrat, has accused a GOP super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), of obtaining her federal security clearance application improperly and then using the information for political purposes.

"I am not aware of any legal way that CLF could have this document," Spanberger wrote in a cease-and-desist letter to the super PAC's executive director, Corry Bliss, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

In her letter, Spanberger demanded that the CLF destroy all copies of her application form and stop using the information.

Spanberger, who is in a congressional race against Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), wrote in her letter that she had "clear evidence" that the CLF had given her application to "at least one news outlet."

The super PAC denied Spanberger's allegations in a statement Tuesday, calling it "a desperate attempt to prevent Virginia voters from learning about her record and background."

CLF said it gained Spanberger's application through a Freedom of Information Act request, which it included in its statement. According to CLF, another GOP research group, America Rising, filed the request with the United States Postal Service (USPS). The application was reportedly one of two she filled out while applying for jobs with USPS and the CIA.

In the statement, CLF spokeswoman Courtney Alexander said, "CLF follows the letter of the law in examining any candidate's background and Ms. Spanberger was no different."

The CLF also released a part of the application with some personal information redacted, pointing to Spanberger's work at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia, which the statement says has radical leanings.

Spanberger's campaign lawyer Graham Wilson told the Times, "In this unredacted form, this is not a document that the government can provide under the Privacy Act."

Spanberger told the Times that she took the English teacher job at the Islamic Saudi Academy as a temporary position while she was waiting to hear back on her background check for a conditional offer at the CIA.

"To be clear, we have no reason to believe that Republican groups have illegally obtained any of your personnel files, nor are we certain how CLF got Ms. Spanberger's document in the first place," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) told the Times. "But even the evidence of this isolated incident is deeply troubling."

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