Post-Tribune, Merrillville, Ind.
Oct. 28—An official with the U.S. Air Force confirmed to the Post-Tribune Thursday that information from First Congressional District candidate Jennifer-Ruth Green’s military record, including details about a sexual assault while she was serving in Iraq, were released to a third party by an individual who did not follow proper procedure.
The details, first released earlier this month by the online media source Politico, have set off a firestorm in one of the most competitive congressional races in the country. The seat, held for decades by Democrats, appears to be up for grabs in a contest between U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan, D- Highland, who first won the seat two years ago when Pete Visclosky chose not to seek another term after serving for 36 years, and political newcomer Green, a Republican living in Crown Point.
“Based on the preliminary findings of an investigation, it appears information from Jennifer-Ruth Green’s service record 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 relations for the Department of the Air Force, said in an email.
“The Department of the Air Force takes its responsibility to safeguard private information seriously and the matter remains under investigation.”
Green’s campaign has said Mrvan’s campaign or someone affiliated with it acquired the military records and supplied them to a reporter with Politico, a charge Mrvan’s camp has denied. Green’s campaign has yet to provide documentation showing a chain of custody for the documents that placed them in Politico’s hands.
Still, controversy has swirled over the release of the confidential information, particularly involving a sexual assault, which would not typically be included in a release of information on service records from the Air Force under the Freedom of Information Act.
The way the release of information was handled by the Air Force was first reported late Wednesday by The Hill.
“The walls are closing in on Congressman Mrvan. He denied any involvement in obtaining and leaking Jennifer-Ruth Green’s military records in a desperate attempt to smear her. Now we know the Air Force did release documents illegally to a Democrat opposition research firm,” Kevin Hansberger, Green’s communications director, said in a statement.
His email included links to a website for the research firm and to the Federal Election Commission website, showing tens of thousands of donations by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to that firm, though it’s not immediately clear which campaign the funds were used on.
Mrvan thanked those who he said have confirmed his campaign is not responsible for the leaks.
“I appreciate that my Indiana Republican colleagues have confirmed that no one affiliated with my campaign is responsible. My wife and my family have endured vicious attacks due to these inaccurate and untrue allegations,” Mrvan said.
“I also take this opportunity to draw attention to the needs of all survivors. Please consider giving your time or donating to one of the many sexual trauma or rape-crisis centers in Northwest Indiana.”
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