Several House Republicans are calling for an investigation and prosecution for the “unauthorized release” of their personal military records to a third party during the 2020 campaign season.
Reps. Don Bacon, R-Neb., and Zach Nunn, R-Iowa, were both notified by the Air Force that their military records were released improperly as they were campaigning in the 2022 midterm elections, and they believe it was part of political effort to hurt their campaigns.
“Knowing that this third party paid by the Dem Campaign Congressional Committee was able to obtain my social security number and fraudulently use it to obtain my military records is concerning not only for myself and the other ten affected, but to every single veteran,” Bacon told Fox News Digital. “Veterans deserve peace of mind knowing their information is safe and will be protected from political dirty tricksters.”
The Air Force confirmed to Fox News that an internal audit had “determined there was an unauthorized release of military duty information on 11 individuals” from October 2021 through October 2022. In a letter to Bacon, first reported by Politico, the Air Force said the records were “inappropriately requested” in November 2021 by a researcher named Abraham Payton, who formerly worked with American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal super PAC, on the false basis of “employment and benefits.”
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The Air Force, which told Fox News in a statement that “[t]here was no evidence of political motivation or malicious intent on the part of any employee,” said the record branch released Bacon’s personal identifiable information to the man without any authorization, and the person appeared to already be in possession of the congressman’s social security number when he requested the information. The employee did not follow proper procedures which required Bacon’s signature in order to release the information.
The Air Force affirmed the employee who released the records was held accountable, but the representatives are seeking further investigation into whether there was political intent or a violation of the law.
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According to Bacon, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told him of 11 individuals’ records being released without proper authorization.
Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokesperson, reportedly said that “virtually all” of the 11 unapproved releases were made to the same third party.
Bacon told Politico that the person who requested the letters had been referred to the Department of Justice. “This was more than just ‘dirty tricks’ by Democrat operatives, but likely violations of the law,” he said.
Midterm candidate Jennifer Ruth-Green faced a similar situation during her midterm campaign, after records of a sexual assault that occurred during her time in the Air Force were released to the public without her knowledge.
House Armed Services Committee Republicans recently joined forces to demand answers from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin concerning the leaked records of Green’s sexual assault.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., the committee’s chairman, and Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, sent a joint letter to Austin demanding he provide a list of all improperly released records of congressional candidates over the past two years and a list of actions taken against those responsible for the leak.
Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie and Kyle Morris contributed to this report.