The Bulletin

Republican PAC puts improperly released personnel records to use in new ad

By: - September 6, 2018 1:30 pm

Information about Democratic congressional candidate Abigail Spanberger found in improperly released federal personnel records is the focus of a new TV ad.

The Congressional Leadership Fund works to get Republicans elected and released five new ads Thursday targeting Democratic candidates in Illinois, New Jersey and California, as well as Spanberger.

The ad took aim at Spanberger’s year-long stint as a substitute English teacher at the former Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, a job that was tucked away in security clearance paperwork she filed to become a U.S. Postal Inspection Service agent.

The PAC called the school “a terrorist breeding ground,” and refers to it as “Terror High” in the ad. The school closed in 2016 and reopened near Herndon under the name King Abdullah Academy.

One of the school’s past valedictorians, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was sentenced to life in prison for planning to assassinate President George Bush in 2005 and joined al-Qaida after leaving the school.

“For a Republican Super PAC to question my national security credentials and integrity based on the time I spent as a long-term substitute, teaching English to children at an embassy school in Northern Virginia, is desperate and weak,” said Spanberger, who is running to unseat U.S. Rep. David Brat, the incumbent Republican in the 7th District, in a statement.

Spanberger acknowledged the PAC was likely looking for information about her time at the school when they filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see her records. She left the school in 2003 and started working as a federal Postal Service inspections agent in 2004. 

She wasn’t teaching when Ali was a student.

In addition to her past job as a U.S. Postal Service Inspection Service agent, Spanberger was also a CIA agent. Both positions required her to fill out extensive paperwork for security clearances. The U.S. Postal Service released the unredacted documents to America Rising, a conservative PAC that produces opposition research on Democratic candidates.

The documents included Spanberger’s Social Security number, medical records and professional resume.

The Postal Service said in a statement the release of the records was because of “human error,” and have started giving employees additional records training.

Spokesperson David Partenheimer also said in an email last week the agency would request the return of the information that was mistakenly disclosed.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.