The House Select Committee on Benghazi is seeking to kill a lawsuit from former Republican staffer Bradley Podliska, who claims he was improperly fired after objecting to the panel’s alleged investigative focus on former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Lawyers for the committee filed a motion in D.C. federal court Friday asking the judge to dismiss key complaints in Podliska’s suit on the grounds that his firing was a legislative act and thus protected from legal inquiry under the Constitution’s speech and debate clause.
“The D.C. Circuit has recognized that where a personnel decision is, itself, a legislative act, any action based on that decision is barred,” the motion stated.
“As a Select Committee Investigator, Plaintiff [Podliska] had job responsibilities that were legislative in nature…. Because such probing into core legislative matters is precluded by the Speech or Debate Clause, Counts I and II of the Complaint must be dismissed.”
The motion was first reported by Politico.
Podliska announced in October that he planned to file suit against the committee and its chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). His allegations added to the controversy that surrounded the panel’s work after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested that the Benghazi investigation had been successful in driving down Clinton’s poll numbers in the 2016 presidential race.
Lawyers for Gowdy filed their own motion on Friday seeking to dismiss Podliska’s other complaints, including the claim that Gowdy defamed him by criticizing his performance in the press in October 2015.
“Mr. Podliska’s suit against Chairman Gowdy papers over the reality that Mr. Podliska himself already had widely publicized the allegedly defamatory facts about his poor performance as a congressional investigator before Chairman Gowdy even was asked to address Mr. Podliska’s own public statements,” the motion stated.
Podliska, a member of the Air Force Reserve, also claimed discrimination under the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA), saying he was fired in part because he took time for active-duty military service. Lawyers for the panel called the claim invalid, arguing that Podliska did not establish that military animus was the “sole reason for adverse action” as required under the CAA.