Air Force improperly released records on GOP candidate’s sexual assault

The Air Force has taken responsibility for the improper release of Republican House candidate Jennifer Ruth-Green’s confidential military records that detailed a sexual assault during her time serving that were exposed in a news story earlier this month.

“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,” Ann Stefanek, chief of media operations at the Air Force, said in a statement to The Hill on Wednesday about the release of Green’s information. “The Department of the Air Force takes its responsibility to safeguard private information seriously and the matter remains under investigation.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Indiana GOP Reps. Jim Banks and Larry Bucshon released a joint statement calling on the Air Force to take responsibility for the release. The two congressmen detailed a Tuesday call with Air Force Inspector General Lt. Gen. Stephen Davis, who confirmed the file was actually improperly released to an opposition research firm, which is how they were presumably later given a Politico reporter.

“On yesterday’s call, the Air Force took full responsibility for improperly releasing Lt. Col Green’s confidential personnel records to an opposition research firm just weeks before the midterm election,” the statement said. “Lt. Gen. Davis informed us that the leaker has been identified and will be held accountable.”

The Politico profile on Green, candidate for Indiana’s 1st Congressional District, included details from poor performance evaluations in her military personnel file. It included that in 2009, “an Iraqi serviceman sexually assaulted [Green] by grabbing her breast and exposing himself” when “she and a small group of officers visited the national training center.” 

Green told Politico that when she reported the assault against the advice of those in her command, her career was “intentionally derailed.”

The Politico profile said that the records “were obtained by a public records request and provided to Politico by a person outside the Mrvan campaign,” referring to Green’s Democratic incumbent opponent Rep. Frank Mrvan.

Only a limited amount of information about service member records is typically available through a Freedom of Information Act request for records less than 62 years old, unless the service member or next of kin provides written consent.

At the time of the profile, Green said she had not given permission for the records to be released and demanded an investigation. She said she also asked Politico to not publish information about her assault.

“I’m a survivor of sexual trauma in the military, and I am being forced to discuss it publicly for the first time because Congressman Mrvan or his supporters obtained — either illegally or by egregious error — military records describing my sexual assault as well as performance reviews, and peddled those records to the media with the intent smear me and my military career …,” Green said in a statement to Politico. 

Banks and Bucshon called for the Air Force to provide more information about the opposition research firm’s connection to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

“The Air Force improperly affected a competitive House race and must provide transparency before election day,” the congressmen said. “We are calling on the Air Force to publicly take responsibility for mishandling Lt Col Green’s service records. Additionally, before the midterm election, the Air Force should release any information it has regarding the financial relationship between the DCCC and the opposition research firm that sent confidential records to Politico’s Adam Wren to smear a servicemember who happens to be running for public office.”

Despite the Air Force taking responsibility, Green’s team alleges that Mrvan at least knew about the leak. 

“The walls are closing in on Congressman Mrvan,” Kevin Hansberger, Green’s communications director, said in a statement to The Hill.

“He denied any involvement in obtaining and leaking Jennifer-Ruth Green’s military records. Now we know the Air Force did release documents illegally to a Democrat opposition research firm. And we know what firm it was and we know they work for the DCCC … which has been coordinating so closely with Frank Mrvan that every ad he’s aired in this race they split the cost of. To believe Mrvan and his cronies didn’t know is laughable. There is more to come.” 

Though Indiana’s first congressional district has elected a Democrat since 1931, a year of inflation, increased crime and the debate around abortion rights has Democrats across the country in a perilous position.  

Politico, the DCCC and Mrvan’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment. 

—Updated at 9:34 p.m.

Tags Adam Wren Ann Stefanek Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Frank Mrvan Frank Mrvan Freedom of Information Act Indiana Jennifer Ruth-Green Jim Banks Kevin Hansberger Larry Bucshon Politico sexual assault Stephen Davis U.S. Air Force

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