Is your security clearance a secret? Or maybe you’re wondering who can access a copy of your background investigation? A congressional primary race in South Carolina is shining the spotlight on security clearance procedures, and what it really means to have your security clearance suspended. A primary race is heating up and one of the hottest topics is the suspended security clearance of candidate and former Pentagon official Katie Arrington.

ClearanceJobs has previously covered Arrington’s security clearance suspension. Details at the time were thin (and remain so), but centered around unauthorized sharing of classified information. Arrington has since tried to clear her name and the air by releasing information about the alleged sharing of classified information along with submitting a privacy act request to get a copy of her security clearance investigation. That hasn’t stopped her primary opponent from using the security clearance suspension as a campaign talking point. The contested race and clearance issues were the topic of an AP story released this weekend. A campaign site goes so far as to say: “Busted: Loses her Security Clearance” according to AP report.

Is Your Clearance Public Fodder

Almost all topics are on the table in the gritty game of campaign politics, which is one of the things used to support why members of congress don’t have to go through the arduous security clearance background investigation process. The idea is that the campaign process should unearth the same issues that may come up in a background investigation – and then it’s up to the people to vet the candidate through the voting process (whether that is wise is another story; that’s simply the policy today).

Arrington’s security clearance status is more ambiguous than won or lost, however, as most individuals close to the process understand. It’s a nuance not likely to come up in a campaign ad, but the security clearance wasn’t denied – it was suspended, and then (likely) entered a loss of jurisdiction status after Arrington left her government position in February.

The Arrington case is an interesting walk through security clearance due process and litigation, as we’ve previously written about. Arrington settled a lawsuit against the Pentagon last year, but subsequently filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Pentagon in April. Her lawsuit seeks to gather information about her suspension.

The security clearance status of government officials rarely garners such headlines. Previously we’ve seen legal discussion regarding the security clearances issued to then President Trump’s children. We’ve also seen Steve Jobs’ full Top Secret security clearance investigation released – but that only came via FOIA request after his death.

The average security clearance holder can rest assured her status will remain private, and likely not a topic of public debate.



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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer