As chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) used $150,000 in taxpayer dollars to settle with a former aide who alleged he was fired in part because he was not willing to focus his investigative work on Hillary Clinton.
The Post confirmed the confidential settlement reached between Gowdy and the Benghazi panel and Bradley Podliska after it appeared in a list of settlements released Friday by the congressional Office of Compliance. Gowdy is now the chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
In a list provided to the House Committee on Administration, the OOC disclosed it oversaw one $150,000 settlement involving a claim of veteran status discrimination and retaliation in the last five years. Podliska, in addition to claiming he was fired for his refusal to focus on Clinton, alleged retaliation by his supervisors because he took leave to fulfill his obligations as an Air Force reservist.
Podliska eventually dropped from his lawsuit the claim he was fired because he refused to focus on Clinton. His December 2016 settlement, which covered the veterans status and retaliation claims, was reported by The Washington Post at the time without the settlement amount. The committee did not admit wrongdoing as part of the agreement.
Podliska’s lawyer, Peter Romer-Friedman, declined in a phone interview to discuss the details of his client’s settlement, citing a confidentiality agreement. However, he said he was not aware of any other such case brought against Congress and settled in the past five years.
“I can confirm that my client is one person who brought a veterans status discrimination and retaliation suit against Congress and that the case settled on terms that were satisfactory to my client,” said Romer-Friedman, a civil rights attorney at Outten & Golden.
A spokeswoman for Gowdy said he and Podliska “never met or communicated” during the latter’s employment.
“The Benghazi Committee no longer exists. I would refer you to House Employment Counsel,” Gowdy’s spokeswoman Amanda Gonzalez wrote in an email, referring to the legal office that represents lawmakers.