Tulsi Gabbard Violated Military Regulations for Political Gain in Every Campaign Since 2012
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard not only opportunistically exploits her military service during the Iraq war to mislead people into thinking she was against that war (she wasn’t until it was over), she also consistently violates military regulations governing partisan political activity.
As someone who is still a member of the National Guard, she is subject to Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 1344.10 which regulates how candidates may and may not use images of themselves in uniform during partisan election campaigns:
These military regulations are why disclaimers appeared under Gabbard in the famous Bernie Sanders 2016 primary campaign ad “The Cost of War” noting that her appearance did not indicate or imply endorsement by either the military or the DoD:
Unlike Sanders, Gabbard is rather unscrupulous when it comes to regulations and the law. So for example, Gabbard’s “Vote Tulsi” Facebook page posted the following image of her in uniform as a fund-raising appeal during her 2012 congressional campaign:
This violates DoD Directive 1344.10 in two ways. First of all, the directive forbids 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.” Secondly, there is no disclaimer.
A few days before the November 2014 general election, Gabbard’s campaign posted this on her “Vote Tulsi” Facebook page:
Again, Gabbard used a photo of herself in uniform as the primary image on campaign material and again there was no disclaimer.
During Gabbard’s 2016 re-election campaign, there were multiple violations of DoD Directive 1344.10. While running in a contested primary against progressive challenger Shay Chan Hodges, this photo was posted by her campaign on the “Vote Tulsi” Facebook page:
Here, not only did Gabbard violate DoD Directive 1344.10 but so did her friends, Eunjin and Jackie, even though it is unlikely Gabbard obtained their written permission to use their images in campaign materials. In fact, the Congresswoman was explicitly warned about violating these DoD rules in the comments section of her “Vote Tulsi” Facebook page six years ago under a photo of another uniformed military member that she used as an endorsement:
After defeating Hodges in the 2016 primary, during the general election Gabbard’s campaign posted this photo of herself in uniform on the “Vote Tulsi” Facebook page:
Anyone who thinks this is not a serious issue would be sorely mistaken — Army reservist Jesse Thorsen was formally reprimanded for heartily endorsing Ron Paul in 2012 in uniform at one of his presidential campaign rallies.
Oddly enough, Gabbard and her staff seem to be aware of DoD Directive 1344.10 judging by the disclaimer on this Memorial Day photo posted on her “Vote Tulsi” Facebook page last year when no election was going on:
Why Gabbard adheres to military rules regulating partisan political activity only when she is not running in a partisan campaign for political office is anyone’s guess.
As if flagrantly and repeatedly violating military regulations were not bad enough, it is almost certainly unconstitutional for Gabbard to serve in Congress while she is a commissioned officer of the U.S. Army National Guard. As a Des Moines Register article by Jason Noble noted:
“Article I, Sec. 6, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution forbids members of Congress from holding ‘any office under the United States’ concurrent with their congressional service.
“The constitutional language itself is plain and contains no exceptions. That’s led legal scholars to conclude that individuals holding military commissions — even in the Reserve Component — should be barred from simultaneously serving in Congress
“In a 2009 Georgetown Law Review article, attorney David J. Shaw reviewed congressional precedents dating to 1789, as well as case law on the matter, and concluded reservists should be barred from holding office unless they resign their military offices.”
The likelihood of Gabbard resigning from the U.S. Army National Guard so that she no longer violates the Constitution by serving in Congress is probably zero given that she tried to hold onto her seat in the Hawaii state legislature while fighting in Iraq and was only prevented from doing so by DoD rules that prohibit active-duty troops from holding political office.
Fortunately, progressives and liberals who do not want to support such an ethically challenged rule-breaking Israel apologist war crimes-denier with a bizarre right-wing record have an alternative in the 2018 Democratic Party primary: Sherry Campagna. The Hawaii State Teachers Association has endorsed Campagna and so should you. The primary is on August 11.