Wayne Simmons, Right-Wing Media's Benghazi Expert, Declared Fraud By Federal Prosecutors
Research ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI
Wayne Simmons has been arrested after a federal grand jury indicted him on "charges of major fraud against the United States, wire fraud, and making false statements to the government," including allegedly falsely claiming he worked for the CIA. Simmons was a frequent and favorite guest on Fox News, and was one of the conservative media's purported experts on the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Simmons joined several prominent conservative activists and media figures in calling for the House to convene a Benghazi Select Committee.
Federal Prosecutors: Wayne Simmons Falsely Claimed He Worked For CIA
Wayne Simmons Is A Conservative Commentator. Simmons' website claimed he was part of the CIA's "Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Group." He also has written for Human Events and appeared regularly on Fox News. [WayneSimmons.us, accessed 10/15/15; HumanEvents.com, accessed 10/15/15]
U.S. Attorney's Office: "Simmons Falsely Claimed He Worked As An 'Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer' For The Central Intelligence Agency." A press release from the U.S Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia stated:
Wayne Shelby Simmons, 62, of Annapolis, Maryland, a former occasional on-air commentator who appeared on a cable news network, was arrested today after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of major fraud against the United States, wire fraud, and making false statements to the government.
According to the indictment, Simmons falsely claimed he worked as an "Outside Paramilitary Special Operations Officer" for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1973 to 2000, and used that false claim in an attempt to obtain government security clearances and work as a defense contractor, including at one point successfully getting deployed overseas as an intelligence advisor to senior military personnel. According to the indictment, Simmons also falsely claimed on national security forms that his prior arrests and criminal convictions were directly related to his supposed intelligence work for the CIA, and that he had previously held a top secret security clearance. The indictment also alleges that Simmons defrauded an individual victim out of approximately $125,000 in connection with a bogus real estate investment. [Justice.gov, 10/15/15]
Conservatives Turned To Simmons For Benghazi Expertise
Conservative Activists Joined With Simmons To Demand A Benghazi Select Committee. A March 5, 2014, letter signed by Simmons and other conservative activists urged House Speaker John Boehner to "create a House Select Investigative Committee on Benghazi -- fully resourced with staff and subpoena powers -- to conduct a thorough, coordinated investigation." Boehner announced plans to form a select committee on May 2, 2014, and the House approved it on May 8, 2014. Activists who signed on to the letter with Simmons included Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton, Fox News contributor Thomas McInerney, Fox News contributor Allen West, Center for Security Policy president Frank Gaffney, Veterans for a Strong America president Joel Arends, Secure America New president Allen Roth, Ginni Thomas, and Freedom Center president David Horowitz. [JudicialWatch.org, 3/5/14; Speaker.gov, 5/2/14; Washington Post, 5/8/14]
Fox News Promoted Simmons' Call For A Benghazi Select Committee. Fox News hosted Simmons to promote his call for a committee. From the segment:
UMA PEMMARAJU: Former CIA operative and author Wayne Simmons is one of those who signed that letter to the speaker of the House and he's joining us this now. Tell us more about why all of you have come together to sign this letter and do you think it's going to put more pressure to get the answers that you guys are looking for?
SIMMONS: The answer is we hope so. We hope that the pressure that we can continue to put on from the Citizens' Commission on Benghazi and along with Judicial Watch by delivering this very, very strong letter to Speaker Boehner, helps motivate him to begin this House Select Committee on Investigations.
Appearing On Fox News, Simmons Said The White House Decided "To Not Rescue Our Former CIA Operatives And Our Military" In Benghazi. During a November 2012 appearance on Your World with Neil Cavuto, Simmons criticized the Obama administration over the Benghazi attacks. He wondered why the White House "made the decisions to not rescue our former CIA operatives and our military" -- a frequently referenced conservative media falsehood. He also suggested only a Mitt Romney win -- which he said he was hoping for -- would allow the country to find out what happened in Benghazi.
Simmons Was A Member Of Accuracy In Media's Citizens' Commission On Benghazi. In 2013, the conservative group Accuracy in Media (AIM) created the Citizens' Commission on Benghazi "to attempt to determine the truth and accuracy of what happened in Benghazi." The commission included "Wayne Simmons, former CIA officer." Simmons also participated in AIM's Benghazi commission events in July 2013 and April 2014. [AIM.org, 7/30/13, accessed 10/15/15; Media Matters, 7/30/13; YouTube, 7/31/13, 5/2/14; Media Matters, 4/23/14]
Simmons Praised Fox News For Its Benghazi Coverage. During the July 2013 AIM event, Simmons praised Fox News' coverage of Benghazi in an interview with Media Matters. Simmons stated: "I would suggest that fortunately for the country that Fox had the foresight to recognize early that there really was something dramatic and very important to the country that happened in Benghazi and the decision makers at Fox chose to not allow that to fall to the wayside. And I think that was, in fact I'm certain that was a big benefit to the nation and hopefully we can continue to move that investigation forward." [Media Matters, 7/30/13]
Simmons Was A Frequent Guest On Fox News
Simmons Appeared On Fox News Dozens Of Times. According to a Nexis search, Simmons has made dozens of appearances on Fox News since 2004. He was regularly identified as a former CIA operative.
Fox News Declined To Comment On Simmons' Arrest Because He Was Not A "Fox News Contributor." CNN reported that "Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti told CNN that he 'was never a contributor for Fox News,' and that he appeared on the network only as a non-paid guest. She therefore declined to comment further." During an April 22 appearance on Fox News Radio, host Brian Kilmeade incorrectly called Simmons a "Fox News contributor." A Fox News spokesperson told The Huffington Post that "Kilmeade falsely identified Simmons as a contributor." [CNN.com, 10/15/15; Fox News Radio, Kilmeade & Friends, 4/22/15; Huffington Post, 10/15/15]
Simmons Once Appeared On Fox News To Criticize A Former CIA Agent For Committing Fraud. [Fox News, The Big Story, 11/13/07]
Simmons Said The United States Should Profile Students From Muslim Countries. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 5/2/13]
Simmons Claimed "If The Democrats Come Into Power ... We'll Have 9-1-1s Unabated." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/15/05]
Simmons Claimed There Are "At Least 19 Paramilitary Muslim Training Facilities In The United States." [Talking Points Memo, 1/16/15]
Simmons Called The Obama Administration The Worst Administration Ever. [FoxNews.com, 4/22/15]
Simmons Said Nancy Pelosi Is A "Pathological Liar" Whose "Attacks On The CIA" Have Sent A Chill "Through The CIA And To Guys Like Me." [Crooks and Liars, 5/15/09]