Skip to comments.VANITY: Does Military Code forbid Candidate pictures in Uniform?
Posted on 03/10/2007 9:23:34 AM PST by CharlesWayneCT
I have a friend running for office in Virginia. He serves in the United States Navy Reserve as a Lieutenant Commander.
He has used pictures of himself in uniform in some of his campaign literature, because he is proud of his service to our country.
But a local blogger is claiming that doing so violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
He has never appeared in uniform for any campaign activity -- everybody acknowledges that. It's also clear a person who is retired from the military can use pictures of themselves in military uniforms -- we have ample evidence of that being done by national candidates.
The only question is whether a person still in the reserves is prohibited from using any picture of themsevles in uniform. My reading of the code says no. I can't believe people like Lindsay Graham (also a JAG officer in the reserves) never put a picture of themselves in uniform in any of their campaign literature.
However, I thought I'd ask here because I know there are people on FR that would have a much more authoritative answer than I do.
It is to my understanding that it is against UCMJ to be at political rallies or in political ads while in uniform. I don't know for certain, but I would assume that extends to personal political campaigns.
3.1. Members of the Armed Forces (including retired members and members of Reserve components). The wearing of the uniform is prohibited under any of the
3.1.2. During or in connection with the furtherance of political activities, private employment or commercial interests, when an inference of official sponsorship
for the activity or interest could be drawn.
Good find - thanks.
Makes sense, too. The uniform should be above politics, not dragged into it. Even by those with whom we agree.
We are in agreement about wearing the uniform during the campaign.
The question is whether a picture of the candidate in uniform is inappropriate while they are in the reserve.
I should have been clearer -- these aren't pictures of him on the campaign, they are pictures he has from the past in military uniform. I've seen lots of candidates include these kinds of pictures on their web pages (like Bush in his uniform, Kerry's pictures of his military service, Webb's pictures, etc).
The blogger is arguing that these are OK because those men are RETIRED, but if they were still in the reserves that would be prohibited.
I didn't read the rules to prohibit pictures of the candidate being in the military simply because he was still in the military. I'm pretty sure I saw most of the Iraq-war candidates using pictures of themselves in the uniforms.
I've seen police officers use pictures of themselves in police uniforms as well, even though they also can't campaign in uniform.
I understand the prohibition on campaigning while in uniform, because people would interact with you based on the uniform.
But I don't see how that applies to campaign literature showing pictures of people, including the candidate, in military uniform.
I think it is probably one of those rules that is on the books yet is rarely (If ever) enforced.
I don't think showing any photograph taken while he was on active duty should be a problem, but you may want to phone up the Legal Affairs Office of one of the local Reserve Districts and ask the question just to be sure the rules haven't changed.
I think it's still out of bounds.
Any use of the uniform that may imply an endorsement is prohibited. Seems to me that such an inference is at least *possible* in this case, and as such by my reading of the UCMJ as posted above by SoldierMedic it would not be permitted.
I wouldn't exactly look to John Kerry for an example of ethical campaign behavior.
No, I wouldn't either, but if the rule was applied in that manner I don't know why any use of the pictures ever would be allowed, as the "confusion" of "endorsement" would be the same whether you were active duty or not.
But I do thank you for the opinion.
Of course, I'm not a military lawyer. When in doubt, call your friendly local JAG office.
Wasn't there that whackjob who protested in front of the White House in uniform, a couple years ago? He got slapped down pretty hard, IIRC.
I think if somebody makes it an issue, they might do something. But you're probably right - too hard for them to really police.
Don't know, except that former servicemen aren't bound by UCMJ, are they?
This site offers some insight from SecDef, and deals with politics in uniform. It does not mention photos of self in uniform, however, it does seem to present the prohibition on wearing your uniform for political gain.
I hope you'll do a follow up when you or your friend gets the definitive answer on this.
Oh, and when you decide to "out" him..;'}
I hate using a democrat for an example, but certainly if this was a clear violation of the UCMJ the republicans would have been smart enough to go after him for it in this hotly contested election. Being court-marshalled for military violations would certainly have hurt his chances, and I can't imagine some non-military local blogger figured out something that a congressional campaign couldn't figure out.
Oh, and I have no problem in using liberals as an example - especially when it illustrates their rank hypocrisy!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.