Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL-16) and Mike Quigley (D-IL-05), members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, announced that they are exploring and intend to introduce legislation to implement stronger enforcement for mishandling of classified documents. Currently, criminal penalties for mishandling classified documents must meet a high standard for prosecution. LaHood and Quigley plan to introduce civil penalties for violations that do not meet that high criminal standard. Proposals being investigated include fines, stripping of clearances, ban on receiving a clearance in the future, and other options.
“Any individual who handles classified material or documents is made aware of the safeguards, responsibility, and importance of protecting highly sensitive information, whether it’s high ranking government officials, Intelligence Committee members, or military officers,” said Rep. LaHood. “As a former state and federal prosecutor, I believe it has become clear that there must be review, reform, and clearer penalties for individuals who mishandle classified information. I am committed to working with my colleague, Congressman Mike Quigley on the House Intelligence Committee, to address this important issue moving forward.”
“As a member of the Intelligence Committee since 2015, I am incredibly well versed in the importance of handling classified documents appropriately. Every individual who receives a clearance is aware of that importance and yet for too many, carelessness creeps in over time,” said Quigley. “While unintentionally lax practices may not rise to the level of criminality, there must be penalties for mishandling classified documents. I am grateful to my colleague Congressman LaHood for partnering with me on this and I look forward to finding a bipartisan solution to this issue.”
Rep. LaHood served as a federal prosecutor and was the Chief Terrorism Prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has served on the Intelligence Committee since March of 2021.