Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Thursday, October 28, 2010

  PA GOP violates the law and the rights of service members

I’ve just received a flier in the mail from the Pennsylvania GOP that’s in clear violation of military law. It supports the re-election of Republican Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15) and attacks his Democratic opponent, John Callahan. The flier, promoting Dent’s supposed support for military veterans, prominently employs a large photo of combat troops from the 1st Army Division. They are listening intently to an unseen speaker, presumably while on tour in Iraq or Afghanistan. At least one name tag is clearly visible.

Large bold letters accompany the photo: “Charlie Dent has received an “A” rating from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and he’s endorsed by the VFW.” Under the photo, very small print provides a disclaimer of sorts: “This photo does not imply endorsement by the Deparatment of Defense or any of its branches of the U.S. military.”

What the disclaimer does NOT say is that the PA GOP obtained permission from the DOD to use the photo in such a partisan campaign advertisement…much less the permission of the individual service members. I cannot believe that the GOP did obtain such permission because that would never have been granted. The US military has always been, from its very constitution, strictly apolitical.

The UCMJ prohibits all active duty personnel from engaging in political activities that would tend to represent a military service member as aligned with a particular candidate or party. Any allowable political activity must be conducted out of uniform. Here is a summary of DOD directives on permissible and impermissible political activity:

Any activity that may be viewed as associating the Department of Defense or the Department of Transportation, in the case of the Coast Guard, or any components of such Departments directly or indirectly with a partisan political cause or candidate shall be avoided.

[…]

Members of the Armed Forces on AD engaging in permissible political activities shall…

3. Refrain from participating in any political activity while in military uniform, as proscribed by DoD Directive 1334.1 (reference (f)), or using Government facilities or resources for furthering political activities.


Without their knowledge or permission, these soldiers have been co-opted against military regulations into Charlie Dent’s re-election campaign.

For any party to use a photograph of active duty troops in a partisan campaign ad is despicable. The PA GOP needs to apologize and Rep. Dent should distance himself from this attempt to use the US military as props in his campaign.

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