News & Election Videos

September 24, 2008

Mahoney Uses Soldier In Ad

Florida Rep. Tim Mahoney may find himself in hot water with military voters. Again. The freshman Democrat, who's already been in trouble for using a photograph of a Soviet soldier on a mail piece, released a new ad last week that shows a Marine in uniform backing his campaign.

That's a no-no, according to directives issued by the Defense Department. Former members of the Armed Forces (the Marine says he "served" in Iraq, in the past tense) are allowed to wear their uniforms for military funerals, memorial services, inaugurals and weddings and in parades on holidays.

But "wearing of the uniform or any part thereof at any other time or for any purpose is prohibited," says a DoD directive on appropriate wearing of a uniform. Featuring a Marine in uniform in a television ad, whether he's active duty or not, would seem to violate the directive.

It's not the first time Mahoney has made a military gaffe. In late June, Mahoney sent out a mailer featuring his positions on veterans' issues that also included a photo of an elderly man with Soviet military decorations. The mailer was a piece of franked mail paid for by Mahoney's Congressional office. His chief of staff apologized to those who were offended.

Mahoney's campaign maintains it did nothing wrong. "Tom Rooney and the NRCC should stop picking on an innocent veteran," Mahoney spokesman Marc Goldberg told The Scorecard, referring to Mahoney's GOP opponent. "They want to deprive a veteran of his right to free speech and assembly, the same right he put his life on the line to defend. Rooney's time might be better served explaining why people should vote for someone who is so deep in the pockets of special interests."

If the first veteran -- later joined by two others who back Mahoney -- weren't wearing a uniform, it would be a pretty good campaign ad. You be the judge of "Flag Ceremony":