A federal agent who leaked classified documents to Congress can’t seek refuge under the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Department of Justice said last week.
The DOJ Office of Inspector General made the determination Friday against an unidentified supervisory special agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for sharing statutorily-protected materials — including wiretaps and law enforcement reports with personal information — with selected members of Congress in 2012.
While the OIG said federal whistleblower protections sometimes allow leaking to lawmakers, so long as the information “isn’t specifically prohibited from disclosure by other statutes,” these particular documents didn’t fit that description.
The ATF agent also shared financial transaction of third parties with his attorney using external documents and personal email, in direct violation of federal information security policies.
“The WPA does not protect employees for disclosing such information to Members of Congress, even if Congress is authorized to receive the information in other contexts,” the office said in a news release Friday. “Therefore, we found that the Special Agent’s unauthorized disclosures of statutorily protected documents and information violated federal law.”