Thomas Jonathan “Jon” Ossoff (born February 16, 1987) is an American investigative filmmaker, former congressional aide, and Democratic candidate running in the 2017 special election to represent Georgia’s 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Born in Atlanta, Ossoff was raised in Northlake, an unincorporated community in Georgia’s 6th congressional district. Ossoff’s mother Heather Fenton, an Australian immigrant, co-founded NewPower PAC, an organization that works to elect women to local office across Georgia. His father, who is of Russian Jewish and Lithuanian Jewish descent, owns a specialist publishing company. Ossoff was raised Jewish, and had a bar mitzvah ceremony. Ossoff was raised by his parents in the 6th District.
Ossoff attended Georgetown University from 2005 to 2009, earning a bachelor’s degree in the School of Foreign Service. He attended classes taught by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.
Ossoff worked as a national security staffer and aide to Rep. Hank Johnson for five years where he drafted and managed legislative initiatives that passed the House and Senate. He had top-secret clearance for five months.
Since 2013, he has been managing partner and CEO of Insight TWI, a small business which produces investigations targeting corrupt officials and organized crime for international news organizations. In 2016, Ossoff was an executive producer for a documentary film by Insight TWI for BBC Three; the film exposed atrocities committed by ISIL in Iraq.
UN suspends polio drive in Pakistan after killings | ASSOCIATED PRESS | DEC 19, 2012
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — The United Nations suspended its polio vaccination drive in Pakistan on Wednesday after eight people involved in the effort were shot dead in the past two days, a U.N. official said.
The suspension was a grave blow to the drive to bring an end to the scourge of polio in Pakistan, one of only three countries where the crippling disease still survives.
Pakistan polio vaccination suspended after killing | ASSOCIATED PRESS | MAY 28, 2013
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani authorities suspended a four-day polio vaccination program Tuesday after gunmen shot dead a female polio worker and wounded another, officials said, in a blow to the U.N.-backed campaign aimed at eradicating the crippling disease from this violence-torn country.
Such attacks have made it harder for Pakistan to join the vast majority of nations declared polio-free.
The two women were attacked Tuesday in Kaggawala village on the outskirts of the main northwest city of Peshawar, police officer Mushtaq Khan said.
Senior police official Shafiullah Khan said two attackers on foot fired a pistol at the workers. He said police have started a search operation.
Government official Habibullah Arif said the polio vaccination drive in the northwestern city of Peshawar and nearby villages has been suspended.
The four-day campaign was launched Tuesday morning, but it was halted “for security reasons and to express solidarity with the slain and injured female polio workers,” he said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the latest killing, but some Pakistani militants have alleged in the past that the polio workers are U.S. spies and that the vaccine makes people sterile.
Reinforcing those suspicions was the disclosure that the CIA used a Pakistani doctor to run a hepatitis vaccination campaign to try to get blood samples from al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden’s family before U.S. commandos killed him there in May 2011.
U.S. Cites End to C.I.A. Ruses Using Vaccines | NEW YORK TIMES | MAY 20, 2014
WASHINGTON — Three years after the Central Intelligence Agency set up a phony hepatitis vaccination program in Pakistan as part of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the Obama administration told a group of American health educators last week that the agency no longer uses immunization programs as a cover for spying operations.
In a letter to leaders at a dozen schools of public health, President Obama’s senior counterterrorism adviser said the C.I.A. had banned the practice of making “operational use” of vaccination programs, adding that the agency would not seek to “obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programs.”
The letter from the adviser, Lisa O. Monaco, comes more than a year after public health officials wrote to Mr. Obama expressing anger that the United States had used immunization programs as a front for espionage. The educators were protesting the C.I.A.’s employment of a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, to set up a hepatitis B vaccination program in Abbottabad to gain access to a compound where Bin Laden was believed to be hiding.
“While political and security agendas may by necessity induce collateral damage, we as a society set boundaries on these damages, and we believe this sham vaccination campaign exceeded those damages,” the educators’ letter said.
The intelligence operation failed to determine whether Bin Laden was in the compound. The Qaeda leader was killed shortly afterward, in May 2011, in a nighttime raid carried out by Navy SEALs. Dr. Afridi was arrested days after the raid and remains in jail in Pakistan.
While in custody, Dr. Afridi told interrogators that he was introduced to C.I.A. officers in Pakistan by an employee of Save the Children. Both the C.I.A. and Save the Children have denied the aid group was used for spying, but the revelation led it to close its operations in Pakistan.
Since the C.I.A.’s vaccination program became public, dozens of public health workers in Pakistan have been killed, with militant groups sometimes announcing that the workers had been suspected of being spies.
John O. Brennan, the agency’s director, put the new policy into effect last August, an agency spokesman said. “By publicizing this policy,” said Ned Price, the spokesman, “our objective is to dispel one canard that militant groups have used as justification for cowardly attacks against vaccination providers.”
Pakistan shuts down Save the Children offices in Islamabad | THE GUARDIAN | JUN 12, 2015
Authorities padlock gate of charity’s compound as official claims staff members had been working ‘against Pakistan’s interest’
The aid charity caught up in the CIA operation to capture Osama bin Laden was ordered out of Pakistan on Thursday after officials accused it of “anti-Pakistan” activities.
The Islamabad headquarters of Save the Children were padlocked by police while a government notification told the group to wind up its operations and ensure that expatriate staff left within 15 days.
The expulsion of one of the world’s best known non-governmental organisations (NGOs) follows years of growing distrust towards foreign charities that security services suspect are often used as covers for intelligence work.
“There were some intelligence reports suggesting some of the international NGOs funded by US, Israel and India were involved in working on an anti-Pakistan agenda,” interior minister Chaudhry Nisar told a press conference on Friday, at which he also launched a tirade against overseas rights activists campaigning against the growing use of the death penalty by the country.
“Let me clarify: offices of any international NGO found doing anti-Pakistan activities would be shut down,” he said.
Save the Children first attracted official wrath after becoming embroiled – the organisation has always claimed unwittingly – in the CIA’s efforts in 2011 to pinpoint the location of former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to a compound in the town of Abbottabad.
In 2012 Islamabad gave foreign staff working for Save the Children just a week to leave the country after the country’s top spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), linked it to a bogus hepatitis B vaccination programme conducted in the town by a doctor called Shakil Afridi.
Under the cover of injecting householders with hepatitis B vaccine, Afridi had tried to collect DNA samples from Bin Laden family members living in the walled compound during the months before US special forces raided the building.
To the fury of US politicians, Afridi was arrested shortly after the killing of Bin Laden and sentenced to 33 years in jail by a tribal court for charges unrelated to the CIA or Bin Laden.
A leaked version of the official inquiry into the Bin Laden affair revealed Afridi told investigators a senior Save the Children official introduced him to female CIA officers, with whom he held secretive meetings in warehouses.
Afridi said they instructed him to organise a vaccination programme in Abbottabad with a particular focus on the part of town where Bin Laden’s compound was located.
Afridi insisted he had no idea he was being used by a foreign intelligence agency. Save the Children said the doctor had never been employed by them.
In a statement on Friday, the charity said it strongly objected to the sealing of its office in Islamabad and said it would raise its concerns at the highest levels.
“All our work is designed and delivered in close collaboration with the government ministries across the country and aims to strengthen public service delivery systems in health, nutrition, education and child welfare,” the statement said.
Save the Children has been in Pakistan since 1979 and currently has 1,200 Pakistani staff members working on its projects.
Foreign charity bosses complain they have been treated with increasing hostility and suspicion in Pakistan, with obstacles to their work becoming ever more onerous in the past six months.
Acquiring visas for foreign staff had become a major battle for the sector, as had getting official permission to travel outside major cities.
Charities are obliged to sign memorandums of understanding detailing precisely where in Pakistan they propose to work and how much money they would be bringing into the country.
An interior ministry official said on Friday it had cancelled agreements with at least 15 foreign charities, including the Norwegian Refugee Council, on the advice of intelligence agencies that said the organisations had been “collecting sensitive data” from Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
A Democrat with a pile of cash commitments announces for Tom Price’s seat | AJC | JAN 5, 2017
Jon Ossoff, who runs a firm specializing in anti-corruption investigations, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he’s lined up more than $250,000 in financial commitments from supporters.
He also has the backing of two other Georgia Democratic power-brokers: Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson.
Ossoff is a former Lewis intern and aide to Johnson who ran several of his election campaigns. He said he would run as an ardent opponent of Donald Trump in the contest, which could be among the first congressional special elections in the nation after the Republican’s victory.
“Donald Trump is an embarrassment and a threat to prosperity and health, justice, and security in the Sixth District,” said Ossoff. “I’m running to stop him and to fight for our community in Congress.”
Who is Jon Ossoff? | AJC | APR 18, 2017
Jon Ossoff, 30, was until recently unknown to most Democrats even in metro Atlanta, but he entered the crowded race in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in January with endorsements from U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson and John Lewis and $250,000 in cash. He parlayed that into an unprecedented $8.3 million fundraising haul, with donations from across the country.
A financial disclosure shows Ossoff has more than $1.7 million in assets, including more than $250,000 in Apple stock and an additional $50,000 in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investment firm. His England-based documentary company, Insight TWI, is valued at more than $250,000. He also has a stake of at least $50,000 in NWC Partnership, a solar panel installation firm.
Georgia Dem: No issue I don’t live in district | THE HILL | APR 18, 2017
Can Any Amount of Money Win Jon Ossoff Georgia’s Sixth District? | ROLLING STONE | APR 18, 2017
Democrats have pumped more than $8 million into the special election to win the deep-red, gerrymandered district
The day Donald Trump’s travel ban went into effect, Jon Ossoff – the 30-year-old former congressional aide running for the House seat vacated by new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price – showed up at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport alongside two of his old bosses, Reps. Hank Johnson and John Lewis, to meet with Georgians detained under the executive order.
Tuesday’s special election in the affluent northern Atlanta suburbs may answer the question: Can any amount of money win back a badly gerrymandered district, or will Democrats be hopelessly stymied until at least 2020, when a new census would give them the chance to even the playing field?
Democrats around the country have heaved more than $8.3 million into Ossoff’s campaign coffers, breaking the record for a special election in Georgia. (By comparison, his Republican rivals, Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and former state Sen. Judson Hill, have raised $463,000 and $473,000, respectively.)