By FITSNews || Last week’s decision by S.C. lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Bill Connor to suspend his campaign for a week while he was called up to active duty with the U.S. military raised an issue we’ve been itching to address around here.
Specifically – what are the advantages (and disadvantages) of running as a current, reserve or retired member of the U.S. Armed Forces?
Obviously, military service is a huge “plus” in most people’s books because it symbolizes a willingness to sacrifice on behalf of country. But candidates who”over-sell” their military service in the political arena run the risk of marginalizing that benefit, while at the same time it seems awfully difficult for military personnel – particularly active duty personnel – to fully participate in the political process.
In addition to restrictions on various types of campaign activity, the Department of Defense also has regulations seeking to curtail the use of “photographs, drawings, and other similar media formats of themselves in uniform as the primary graphic representation in any campaign media, such as a billboard, brochure, flyer, Web site, or television commercial.”
Basically, the Army doesn’t want to appear like it’s endorsing anyone – which makes sense.
We encountered this rule first hand recently when we published an interview with General Bob Livingston, who is currently running unopposed for S.C. Adjutant General. As we prepared the interview for publication, we called Livingston’s campaign and asked if we could have a picture of him in uniform to run alongside the story.
No can do, we were told. Instead, we were provided a picture of Livingston in a suit at a political event to use for the article.
Last week, Esquire published a list of military campaigns that were allegedly violating Department of Defense regulations regarding the use of military uniforms in campaign ads or photographs. One of those campaigns belongs to Katherine Jenerette, who is running with a host of other candidates for the S.C. First Congressional District.
We spoke with Jenerette Tuesday night and she assured us that all of her campaign activities have been approved by her commanding officer.
Personally, our belief is that anyone who has honorably served in the U.S. military should be allowed to wear the uniform (and use graphic depictions of themselves in uniform) however they choose. We also believe that restrictions on campaigning by members of the military are ridiculous (and possibly illegal) – provided that attending campaign events does not directly interfere with their ability to discharge their duties.
Of all people, military candidates like Connor, Livingston, Jenerette (and for that matter Democratic Rep. James Smith) have earned the right to campaign without one arm tied behind their backs …