Todd Podliska — the former Benghazi Committee staffer who is now alleging he was fired for refusing target Hillary Clinton — has through his lawyers accused committee chair Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of violating government confidentiality rules and federal law, MSNBC reported Monday afternoon.
Peter Romer-Friedman, one of Podliska’s lawyers, says the South Carolina Republican and the committee released confidential information regarding Podliska’s mediation in the employment dispute. He also rebuked Gowdy’s assertion that he never met Podliska, arguing that the two had interacted at least twice.
Romer-Friedman also told MSNBC he was sending a cease-and-desist letter to Gowdy to demand the House Benghazi Committee Chairman “stop making statements or releasing information that may violate the confidentiality rules for disputes with former congressional staff.”
The letter, first obtained by MSNBC, charges that Gowdy has been “describing private settlement discussions between the parties that must be treated as confidential under the Congressional Accountability Act, and surely Chairman Gowdy, as a lawyer, knows that he is not permitted to publicly disclose private settlement discussions.”
“Aside from the deliberate falsity of those characterizations,” the letter continues, “both you and your clients know that the public disclosures made by Chairman Gowdy and the Benghazi Committee clearly violate both the Congressional Accountability Act and the Mediation and Confidentiality Agreement that you both signed.” The letter, from Podliska’s three attorneys, is addressed to the House Employment Counsel’s office. A cease-and-desist letter does not bind the recipient in any legal way, but provides a formal attempt to put a party on notice of allegedly improper or illegal acts.
“Both Rep. Gowdy and the committee have clearly violated terms of the confidentiality agreement and the Congressional Accountability Act,” Romer-Friedman told MSNBC.
The latest shot in the legal battle between Podliska — who says he will file a federal lawsuit for wrongful termination — and the Republicans on the committee came after Gowdy publicly rebuked Podliska’s allegations that the committee had put targeting Clinton ahead of a more comprehensive review of the Benghazi attacks.
“Because I do not know him, and cannot recall ever speaking to him, I can say for certain he was never instructed by me to focus on Clinton, nor would he be a credible person to speak on my behalf,” Gowdy told Fox News.
Read the full letter here.