EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is raising questions about whether the Air Force broke the law by releasing personnel records for a GOP congressional candidate, which outed her as a survivor of sexual assault.
Politico reported last week that Jennifer-Ruth Green, a GOP candidate for Congress in Indiana, was sexually assaulted during her time in the military. The outlet reported the information as part of a lengthy profile on Green that looked at her performance records while in the Air Force and Indiana National Guard, in which she is a lieutenant colonel.
According to Politico, a person outside the campaign of Rep. Frank Mrvan, D-Ind., who obtained them via public records request, gave the documents to the outlet. But Cotton says it is illegal for the Air Force to release private personnel records like the ones cited by the Politico story, and he is demanding the Air Force explain how the documents became public.
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“[Officer Performance Reports] could only be released if that member agreed, in writing, to release his or her documents,” Cotton’s letter said, quoting an Air Force response to a congressional inquiry from his office.
“Of additional concern is the appearance that [the] party responsible for releasing these Air Force documents may be exploiting private matters, including a sexual assault, for partisan purposes,” Cotton added. “I am therefore formally requesting a full accounting of how and on what basis these documents were released or leaked, and who is responsible.”
Cotton’s letter is addressed to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Cotton himself served in the Army, including in Afghanistan.
The Air Force told Fox News Digital that it does not have records indicating that the documents on Green were released as part of a public records request.
“We cannot confirm any documents on this individual were released by the Department of the Air Force under the Freedom of Information Act,” an Air Force spokesperson said. “In general, any release of information that, if disclosed, would invade another individual’s personal privacy would be reviewed under Exemption FOIA 5U.S.C. §552 (b)(6) with redactions made to ensure compliance with the law. Each document would be reviewed on a case by case basis.”
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Green, meanwhile, claims that the documents were illegally obtained and blames Mrvan for their publication.
“I believe Congressman Frank Mrvan illegally obtained those documents and was floating them around to [the] press,” Green told Fox News Digital. “That’s what our political team told us, that they were farming it out to several different press outlets to see who could write a very disgusting, ugly smear piece against me with the intent to paint me as a disgraced military officer.”
Mrvan said that he was not responsible for the publication of Green’s records.
“Neither myself nor anyone affiliated with my campaign provided any military service record to Politico,” Mrvan’s campaign tweeted.
“I thank my wife Jane for her bravery and tireless advocacy on behalf of all sexual assault survivors. Our dedication and life’s work on this issue is above and beyond politics,” he continued.
Fox News’ Kyle Morris contributed to this report.