The Democratic Party is pounding the Pentagon with public records requests to try to dig up dirt on GOP White House contenders and vulnerable GOP senators, Politico reports.
Citing Department of Defense logs,
targets of the Freedom of Information requests include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and former business executive Carly Fiorina, who previously held was on Pentagon advisory board.
Untouchables for the opposition research, however, include Donald Trump and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who haven't left a Defense Department paper trail, Politico notes.
The Defense logs show Rubio appears to have communicated the most with the Pentagon.
"Opposition research seems to be a priority for many campaigns," Freedom of Information Act expert Steve Aftergood tells Politico. "It is not clear to me that FOIA is a particularly useful tool for that purpose. The turnaround time can be quite long — not just weeks or months but even years."
All total, the Democratic National Committee has submitted 11 requests under the Freedom of Information Act over the past year to the Pentagon's main processing center, which handles records for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and a variety of defense agencies, according to a log of FOIA requests, Politico reports.
Also, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is looking to the Pentagon for fodder on Republican senators that face reelection in the fall — including Roy Blunt of Missouri, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.
Republicans are doing their own opposition research, Politico reports, with the Republican National Committee chief of research saying he's submitted requests seeking communications involving Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.
The RNC's Clinton-related requests total 368 in the past year, made to federal agencies, as well as state and local governments.
According to Politico, the Defense Department logs show the RNC submitted just one request last year to the Pentagon's main FOIA processing center – that between the State Department and senior defense officials regarding potential weapons sales to specific countries.
"This appears to be an effort, at least in part, to determine whether the former secretary of state had attempted to influence arms sales to countries that contributed to the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit established by former President Bill Clinton," Politico reports, adding the Pentagon is still processing the request.
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