Jon Ossoff's National Security Credentials Don't Add Up

Georgia Dem says he was granted security clearance as college student, part-time staffer

Jon Ossoff
Jon Ossoff
March 24, 2017

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old running to replace the congressional seat vacated by Tom Price, claims he spent five years as a national security expert with top security clearances, but it is becoming increasingly unclear whether the claim is true.

Ossoff has been anointed by Democrats as their next best chance for an electoral win largely due to his style—the New Yorker praised him for his "Kennedy-ish features" and "Obama-like manner of speaking"—but his thin resume is a vulnerability that has been hit by opponents on both sides of the aisle.

To combat the attacks Ossoff regularly states on the campaign trail and in ads that for five years he was a "national security aide with top-secret clearance."

Ossoff is referring to his work as a staffer in the office of Rep. Hank Johnson (D., Ga.), but the extent of Ossoff's national security work and number of years with security clearance are points of contention.

Ossoff officially began working for Johnson's office in January 2007 as a part-time employee, according to congressional records. He had previously worked on the campaign trail as deputy communications director for Johnson, who compared Jewish settlers to termites this summer.

Ossoff, just shy of 20 years old at the time, was still an a cappella-singing student at Georgetown University when he began. His role in Johnson's office, according to his LinkedIn profile, was as both a legislative correspondent and a systems administrator—neither of which would require security clearance. 

It was not until two and a half years later in August 2009, after Ossoff graduated, that he was promoted to the more senior position of full-time legislative assistant, where Ossoff would have been able to work on legislation.

Not only would this have been the first time that Ossoff would have needed security clearance but it also is likely the first time he would have been eligible to receive it, according to information from the Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives, which handles security clearance for staffers.

The Office of the Sergeant at Arms told the Washington Free Beacon that it could "not comment on current or former staff members' security clearance status," but that generally only permanent full-time staffers would be considered for security clearance.

Neither Ossoff nor his campaign responded to inquiries into when he was granted security clearance and how long he was involved in national security issues.

Johnson's office also didn't respond to a request for more information on Ossoff's time as a staffer.

Ossoff's campaign has previously indicated that Ossoff was given his security clearance after working on Johnson's campaign as a press officer in 2006.

Ossoff left Johnson's office in August 2012 after he rose to senior legislative assistant, the congressional record shows.

Ossoff moved to London to study at the London School of Economics and become CEO of Insight: TWI, an investigative film company that produces films for Al Jazeera.

Published under: Congress