On Feb. 8, the Air Force informed two Republican political candidates, also military veterans, that their information had been improperly leaked to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee contractor. That same day, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ chief technology officer met to discuss cybersecurity with his wife, the chairwoman of the DCCC.
"Meet w/Suzan's technology team (account security)" reads the 3:00 p.m. calendar entry on Veterans Affairs assistant secretary Kurt DelBene's official calendar, a reference to his wife, Rep. Suzan DelBene (Wash.), chairwoman of the DCCC. The calendar entry, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, also contains a link to the DCCC's Zoom account. Just hours earlier, the Air Force notified the two veterans, Sam Peters and Kevin Dellicker, that a DCCC contractor had duped them into releasing their restricted service records during the 2022 elections.
Both Peters and Dellicker were running for Congress as Republicans when their military records were improperly obtained by a Democratic opposition research group, according to campaign disclosures. The House Weaponization Committee launched an investigation into the breach of military service records in March.
"This isn’t going away quietly," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said last Monday. "It wasn’t on just one person. It was all these Republicans running. We’re gonna have to just not clamp down on that, [but] look to see if it’s happened anywhere else."
The timing of the meeting could be an optical nightmare for the Democratic power couple. A Biden appointee, Kurt DelBene is responsible for all privacy-related matters at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He oversees the department's Privacy Service, whose mission is "to preserve and protect the personally identifiable information (PII) of Veterans." The political campaign committee his wife now chairs is in hot water for using the social security numbers of at least seven Republican congressional candidates to trick the Air Force into releasing their private military service records.
The DCCC confirmed the Feb. 8 meeting with Kurt and Suzan DelBene took place but denied it had anything to do with "DCCC political matters." A DCCC spokesman told the Free Beacon that Kurt DelBene was brought in to ensure it was following all cybersecurity protocols to protect their private email addresses from "bad actors" and "foreign adversaries."
Watchdog groups say the DelBenes’ meeting warrants scrutiny.
"With the possible ethics violations of Biden Administration officials that we and other watchdog groups have uncovered, any initial skepticism about a meeting between a political organization and a high-ranking appointee would be more than justified," said Protect the Public’s Trust director Michael Chamberlain. "We wish them all the best in protecting themselves from bad actors, such as people who improperly obtain the private military service records of political candidates."
It’s unclear whether Kurt DelBene's wife was involved in planning the meeting with the DCCC. The Department of Veterans Affairs did not return a request for comment.
The DCCC obtained the military records through a contractor, the Due Diligence Group, to which the committee paid more than $110,000 in 2022 for research and consulting, according to campaign disclosures. Some of the military records obtained by the Due Diligence Group ultimately made their way to Politico, which cited them in an October 2022 story that revealed former Republican congressional candidate Jennifer-Ruth Green was sexually assaulted while serving in the Air Force. The story prompted the Air Force to launch an internal investigation over the illegal release of military service records.
The DCCC has refused to accept any wrongdoing in the matter, telling Politico on Wednesday that "public records requests are a standard part of the research process," and blaming the Air Force for the leaks.