DoD’s Arrington resigns ‘in protest’, announces run for Congress

Former leader of DoD's CMMC program alleges her security clearance suspension and later elimination of her position were "politically influenced."

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Ms. Arrington announced her candidacy for the House of Representatives on the day following her resignation.

Katie Arrington, the suspended senior Pentagon official who led and championed the early iterations of a new cybersecurity model for Defense contractors formally resigned from government service Monday, just a few days after the Defense Department eliminated her former position.

Her attorney, Mark Zaid, said she was resigning in protest because of DoD’s latest decision, which moved the entire Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Program from the department’s office of acquisition and sustainment (A&S) to the DoD CIO’s office. Arrington’s now-former position, the chief information security officer for A&S, ceased to exist on the same day.

Arrington has been on administrative leave since May 2021, when the National Security Agency suspended her security clearance over allegations that she had improperly disclosed top secret information to a Defense contractor.

In her resignation letter late Monday, Arrington, a Trump administration hire who previously served as a Republican South Carolina state legislator, continued to assert those allegations were unsubstantiated, while adding that she believed her clearance suspension was “politically influenced.”

She alleged her removal coincided with a period when she was preparing a hostile workplace claim against Jesse Salazar, who President Joe Biden appointed last February to be the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for industrial policy.

“It is a very sad day for our nation when the sustained and incredibly impactful contributions of a dedicated member of the Senior Executive Service are dismissed because false accusations with no rationale and their association with the previous administration and ridiculous internal-to-DoD power grabs,” she wrote. “I never approached my public service in a partisan manner, but my service and my good name was disparaged without basis and in a totally partisan manner.”

Arrington returned to partisan politics the next day, however, when she announced her candidacy for the House of Representatives seat from South Carolina’s First Congressional District. In an interview with The State, she advanced former President Trump’s false claims that he was the true winner of the 2020 election, and released a television ad promising to promote his “America First” agenda.

The Defense Department declined to comment on the allegations Arrington raised in her resignation letter.

Until Monday, Zaid said Arrington had still been on administrative leave as an SES even after her A&S position was eliminated a few days earlier, and that DoD had neither told her what her new duty title would be nor taken action to formally remove her from government service.

He said despite her resignation, Arrington is still challenging the government’s decision to suspend her security clearance and its subsequent proposal to permanently revoke it. Arrington filed a formal appeal to DoD’s Consolidated Adjudication Facility on Monday, alleging the allegations that she wrongly disclosed classified information were unfounded.

Last week, the government reached a legal settlement with Arrington in which it agreed to give her two additional months to file that appeal. In the same settlement, the government agreed to reimburse her for legal fees she’d incurred in her lawsuit thus far, and turned over evidence describing what she was alleged to have done wrong.

Until that point, according to court filings, NSA and DoD had not given her or her attorneys any details about what information she allegedly disclosed, to whom, or when. The Air Force Office of Special Investigation, which investigated the case, did conclude, however, that Arrington never had any criminal intent. The DoD Inspector General also acknowledged to her attorneys that she was not the subject of a senior official investigation.

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