- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2015

An investigator who served on the House Select Committee on Benghazi before being fired earlier this year has filed a discrimination suit against the panel and its chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy.

Attorneys representing the plaintiff, Air Force Reserve Maj. Bradley Podliska, claimed in federal court Monday that their client was wrongfully terminated from his job investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Mr. Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and chairman of the committee, stated publicly last month that Maj. Podliska had been fired from the panel because of “deficient performance” and allegations he had “mishandle[d] classified information.”

Attorneys for Maj. Podliska claim he was terminated not because of any wrongdoing, but rather his decision to briefly abandon the investigation and serve 39 days with the Air Force Reserves — a maneuver allowed by law under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

“In June 2015, Podliska was unlawfully fired by the Benghazi Committee because he sought to exercise his rights under USERRA. This followed months of increasing hostility towards Podliska because he left work to fulfill his military obligations as a reservist,” his attorneys wrote in the complaint.

“Chairman Gowdy and his Benghazi Committee staffers responded by intentionally defaming Podliska, making numerous false allegations to multiple national news outlet,” the complaint continued.

Additionally, his lawyers claim that termination was sought because the reservist “was unwilling to along with the hyper-focus” on the State Department and former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton after returning from service.

House Republicans said Maj. Podliska was fired for attempting to spearhead a campaign against the former secretary of state “that bore no relationship whatsoever to the committee’s current investigative tone, focus or investigative plan” with that of the panel.

The reservist’s attorneys said the allegations were made “with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the statements, and/or with negligence for the truth or falsity of the statement.”

“The false and defamatory statements were published and broadcast by hundreds of different media outlets and were read and heard by millions of people, and Chairman Gowdy intended for them to be so disseminated,” the lawsuit charged.

The plaintiff accuses the congressman of having intentionally set out to “to damage Podliska’s reputation and his ability to seek or secure employment in his chosen field, depriving Podliska of his rights under the Constitution of the United States.”

Jamal Ware, a communications director for the Benghazi panel, said the suit is “meritless” and “improperly strike at the heart of the committee’s legislative functions.”

“The committee did not and does not discriminate or retaliate based on military service, military status or any other unlawful factor,” Mr. Ware told The Washington Times Monday. “We look forward to responding to the allegations in due course and in the appropriate forum. And we are confident that once all the facts are known — should this case be permitted to proceed — we will be fully exonerated.”

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