Shortly before the 2008 presidential election, the illegal immigration status of then-candidate Barack Obama's aunt was leaked to an Associated Press reporter. The leaker of that information did not go unidentified, a newly released investigative report shows.
Under questioning, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement employee admitted telling a "rumor" to a reporter about Zeituni Onyango's immigration status - she had been denied asylum at the time and was facing deportation.
An immigration judge would eventually give her legal status allowing her to stay in the United States.
The inquiry found the ICE employee called the reporter on October 31, 2008, only a week before the election won by Obama. The employee's name was redacted from the report.
The investigation found that the employee disclosed an individual's immigration information without authorization, attempted to mislead investigators that his contact with the reporter was only social, and that he misused government property in leaking the information.
The report was completed August 10, 2010, but was released recently following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Huffington Post.
The employee would tell investigators that his leak was an "error in judgment" and had not considered the release of the information to be official - despite having done so from a government phone.
According to the report, the employee said: "I mean in retrospect it was an error in judgment. No doubt about it. I had no political motivations."
He thought of his disclosure of the information that "the American public has a right to know that."
The report gives no indication of any disciplinary measures conducted as a result.
Contacted for comment on Thursday, ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen would only comment about the department's policy.
"ICE does not comment on whether management action is taken as a result of an investigation done by OPR unless the resolution results in some kind of criminal or other public administrative action," Christensen said.
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