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GOP Congressional Candidate Arrington Sues DoD to Compel Document Release

April 6, 2022 by Dan McCue
GOP Congressional Candidate Arrington Sues DoD to Compel Document Release
Katie Arrington

WASHINGTON — Candidate Katie Arrington, currently hoping to unseat incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., in the upcoming South Carolina congressional primary, sued the Defense Department on Tuesday seeking the release of records related to the suspension of her security clearance.

Arrington previously ran for the seat representing South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in 2018 challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Sanford in a contest seen as a test of the power of then-President Donald Trump, who roundly disliked Sanford.

Arrington won the primary, but was subsequently gravely injured by a drunk driver, and ultimately lost the general election to Joe Cunningham. 

Mace then went on to defeat Cunningham when he ran for a second term.

While Arrington, who had been working as chief information security officer in DoD’s office of acquisition, made no secret of her desire to run again for the seat, that ambition became more complicated last May, when the National Security Agency abruptly suspended her security clearance and she was placed on paid administrative leave.

The reasons behind Arrington’s suspension are classified. But according to court documents, she was told it was because of “a reported unauthorized disclosure of classified information.” 

She filed a lawsuit against the government last year seeking to clear her name, and that suit was settled in February. While it didn’t get her clearance restored, it did presumably give her access to at least some of the evidence lodged against her.

Her latest lawsuit, filed by attorney Mark Zaid in D.C. Federal Court continues to seek the release of records related, in Zaid’s words “to the highly questionable actions” taken to revoke his client’s security clearance.

According to the complaint, “no substantive information” has ever been provided to Arrington about her suspension despite repeated requests made to the Defense Department, National Security Agency and other offices that might be privy to the details.

“The NSA’s action to allege Arrington committed any type of security violation was baseless and/or exaggerated and normally would not serve as the grounds to immediately suspend an individual’s clearance access,” the complaint says. 

“The decision was designed to interfere with the cybersecurity activities that Arrington was running through DoD, which NSA did not support,” it continued. “Nor did certain high-ranking DoD officials want Arrington serving in a senior position within the Biden administration due to her close previous ties with President Trump and they used NSA’s decision as a pretext to remove her.”

Zaid, through the complaint, maintains there was no reason for the Defense Department to suspend Arrington’s security clearance and that doing so “simply removed her access to a small subset of information that was not needed for her to continue her daily work.”

Zaid and Arrington further allege that since her suspension in May 2021, “unknown individuals within DoD improperly, and possibly illegally, leaked privacy protected information concerning Arrington to unauthorized third parties for the purpose of further causing her harm.” 

“Some of the leaked information has, in fact, been completely false and defamatory, such as assertions that her security clearance had been revoked and that she had been fired. Neither of these events ever occurred,” the complaint says.

A spokesperson for the Defense Department declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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