The Idaho Statesman has a front-page article by reporter Dan Popkey today about an ad that congressional candidate Vaughn Ward placed on the “Drudge Report” Web site that got him in trouble with the U.S. Marines, who told Ward the ad violated military regulations about the use of the military uniform in campaigns. The ad features Ward in full combat gear, with the wording, “With your help I will vote to repeal Obamacare! Vaughn Ward for Congress,” accompanied by a button link for contributions headed “I will help! Contribute now!” Popkey reports that after the Marines objected, Ward pulled the ad. Then, Ward sent out a postcard mailing that also featured a prominent photo of him overseas in full combat gear, next to the slogan, “Vaughn Ward - Fighting for Idaho Values.” Some, but not all, of the postcards had a sticker added with a tiny disclaimer noting that the use of his photograph in uniform “does not imply endorsement from the Department of Defense or the Marines.”
You can read Popkey’s full article here; see the postcard mailer and disclaimer here; and read the U.S. Department of Defense directive “Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces” here.
When Ward, a Republican who’s in a face-off with state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, in the primary campaign for the 1st District congressional seat now held by Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick, came out with his first TV ad of the campaign, I was surprised to see no reference at all to his military record, which is such a major part of his life story. Instead, that commercial focused on Ward driving and leaning against a pickup truck, talking core values. At the time, Ward’s campaign spokesman, Ryan O’Barto, told me, “While that is a large part of Vaughn’s background, he doesn’t really like to wear it on his sleeve.” Ward served in Iraq and Afghanistan; he earned a Bronze Star with Combat V for Valor.