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House Benghazi panel settled lawsuit by ex-aide for $150,000

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Benghazi committee used $150,000 in taxpayer money to settle a lawsuit filed by a former aide who alleged he was fired in part because he was not willing to focus his investigative work on Hillary Clinton, documents released Friday show.

Air Force Reserve Maj. Bradley Podliska also complained that the committee's leadership discriminated against him, because they were unhappy he had to leave work to perform military service during the panel's inquiry into the deadly 2012 attacks at U.S. facilities in Libya.

The dollar amount of the settlement was made public Friday by the House Administration Committee as part of wider release of records detailing taxpayer-financed payments made over the years to settle claims of sexual harassment, discrimination and other prohibited behavior by members of Congress.

The administration committee did not name Podliska, the Benghazi panel or its chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.

The Associated Press confirmed the settlement was with Podliska, according to two people familiar with the settlement who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the details publicly. The Washington Post first reported the settlement, which was made late last year.

Gowdy said in 2015 that Podliska was fired for mishandling classified information. Podliska denied that and claimed Gowdy defamed him.

Podliska's attorney said his firing violated a law that protects service members and veterans from workplace discrimination based on their military service or status.

Podliska said in the suit that the now-defunct Benghazi committee was engaged in a partisan investigation of the Benghazi attacks, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

The Republican-led panel conducted a two-year investigation at a cost of $7 million to taxpayers. Its final report faulted the Obama administration for security deficiencies at the Libyan outpost and a slow response to the attacks. The report, however, found no wrongdoing by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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