House Benghazi select committee Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) inappropriately disclosed private information about a GOP whistleblower who said he was fired from the committee in part because he refused to target Hillary Clinton, according to an ethics complaint from a pro-Clinton watchdog group.
The American Democracy Legal Fund, founded by Clinton ally David Brock, alleged that Gowdy violated the Congressional Accountability Act by disclosing information about ex-staffer Bradley Podliska’s private settlement discussions with the committee. Gowdy told The Washington Post earlier this month that Podliska cited his status as a major in the Air Force reserve as the basis for his termination in a September mediation filing, rather than any pressure to investigate Clinton.
“The CAA prohibits parties to a dispute resolution from disclosing information from the dispute resolute (sic),” ADLF President Brad Woodhouse wrote in a letter dated Oct. 27 to the Office of Congressional Ethics. “Rep. Gowdy violated the statute by publicly revealing the contents of Mr. Podliska’s record and mediation filing in his attempt to discredit the former staffer. For the above stated reasons, we request that OCE commence an immediate investigation into Rep. Gowdy’s conduct.”
The complaint accused Gowdy of disclosing the information in order to defend the Benghazi committee’s work. In recent weeks, both Republicans and Democrats have suggested that the committee was “designed” to go after the Democratic presidential frontrunner.
Brock echoed that charge in a statement provided to TPM.
“Trey Gowdy’s disclosure is yet another example of him selectively sharing private information to influence the media and the public – now even his former Republican staffer, who dared to oppose him, has been made a victim,” Brock said in the statement. “Gowdy’s leak of Podliska’s dispute resolution is a clear violation of well-defined confidentiality provisions, and he must answer for his deliberate and flagrant violation of the law.”
Podliska’s lawyers previously told MSNBC they sent Gowdy a cease-and-desist letter asking the chairman to “stop making statements or releasing information that may violate the confidentiality rules for disputes with former congressional staff.” Podliska has said he intends to file suit for wrongful termination next month.