The conservative group Accuracy in Media (AIM) has removed references to Wayne Simmons from its Benghazi commission website after he was arrested 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.
Media Matters this morning reached out to AIM about the removal of Simmons from its website, which at the time did not include any explanation for the deletions. This afternoon the group released the following statement about Simmons on their website:
We were stunned and saddened to hear the news about Wayne Simmons. He has been a colleague of ours on the Citizens' Commission on Benghazi since we were established in 2013. We have removed Wayne's name from the list of members on the website of the CCB, pending the outcome of the legal proceedings. As with everyone charged with a crime or crimes in this country, he is innocent until proven guilty. We wish him the best.
On July 29, 2013, AIM announced in a press release that it was launching the Citizens' Commission on Benghazi (CCB) “with some of the country's top retired military officers and national security officials,” including “Wayne Simmons, former CIA officer.” That press release is no longer online. Other deletions include:
- AIM removed Simmon's commission biography page, which boasted of how he “spent 27 years working with the CIA to combat terrorism, narco-terrorism and narcotics trafficking, arms smuggling, counterfeiting, cyber-terrorists, and industrial and economic espionage.”
- AIM removed a transcript of Simmons' speech at a September 16, 2013, press event.
- AIM removed a press release announcing Simmons' presence at a July 30, 2013, press event.
- AIM removed a March 7, 2014, release announcing that Simmons and other CCB members signed a letter calling on House Speaker John Boehner to form a select committee on Benghazi.
- AIM removed an April 24, 2014, release announcing the “Citizen's Commission on Benghazi Reveals Damning New Report.”
- AIM removed an August 1, 2013, column touting Simmons' remarks at the July 2013 Benghazi press event. The column criticized Media Matters for calling AIM a “fringe” group. From the since-removed column:
The speakers stressed the importance of the press, the Fourth Estate, in continuing to call for answers. Unfortunately, the George Soros-funded Media Matters, which attended the event, hyper-focused on the praise at the event for Fox News' reporting, calling AIM a "fringe" group promoting “outlandish conspiracies about the incident” which had questioned the credibility of generals and repeated the “stand down” controversy. When questioned about the role that Fox has played in the Benghazi scandal--a question posed, in fact, by Media Matters--Simmons told Media Matters that he “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.”
AIM's Benghazi commission still has other questionable characters including birthers and anti-Muslim advocates. AIM itself has frequently pushed fringe rhetoric relating to LGBT issues, President Obama's birth certificate and Vince Foster's suicide.
Simmons was a frequent and favorite guest on Fox News, where he pushed for the House to form a Benghazi Select Committee and claimed the White House decided “to not rescue our former CIA Operatives and our military” in Benghazi.