Candidate Questions How a GOP Group Got Her Security Clearance Application

(Bloomberg) -- A former CIA officer running as a Democrat for a Virginia House seat questioned the legality of a Republican super-PAC obtaining her security clearance application to use in the political campaign.

Abigail Spanberger, who is challenging Republican Representative Dave Brat, said there’s “no legal way” the Congressional Leadership Fund should have gotten the document through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The super-political action committee, which is aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, previously released a copy of the request as well as a snapshot of one page of the documents it got from the U.S. Postal Service, where Spanberger worked before joining the Central Intelligence Agency.

The group used it to drew attention to Spanberger’s stint at an Islamic school in Virginia, where Spanberger says she briefly taught AP English to cover another teacher’s maternity leave. The statement said the Islamic Saudi Academy “produced a number of well-known terrorists.”

The suburban Richmond seat had been a Republican stronghold, but Spanberger is one of the strongest Democratic candidates nominated there in recent years, making it competitive in the November election. It’s one of the seats the Democratic Party has targeted in their attempt to overturn the Republican House majority.

Spanberger said her time as a substitute teacher was as irrelevant to her congressional campaign as her previous jobs as a lifeguard and a bartender. “I find this particularly offensive because for the entirety of my time with the CIA I worked counterterrorism cases. I took risks for this country,” she said on a conference call.

Spanberger said she was “horrified and astounded” when approached by a reporter with a copy of her unredacted Standard Form 86. She said her own campaign filed similar requests to do due diligence on information that would be publicly available and is still waiting for a response.

The SF-86 is a detailed form that applicants must complete to share any information that could compromise their ability to access government secrets. Spanberger said she has nothing to hide and her campaign filed a cease and desist order to “stand up for what’s right and the rule of law.”

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