This is the front cover of a mail piece sent out recently by the Faisal Gill campaign. If the main picture and the third inset aren’t posed campaign photos, I can’t imagine that the campaign would need the services of a professional photographer at all. These are pretty charming pictures, but as I’ve pointed out it is against Navy regulations for a candidate to use his uniform to promote his candidacy while serving as a member of the armed forces.
There’s an important reason why this is the case. Since the founding of our nation, our armed forces have been apolitical which has helped to cement the philosophy that the armed forces are subordinate to our elected government rather than a competing power within it, as is the case in several other countries where military dictatorships are common and the rule of law is often rather weak as a result. If we had candidates for office using their uniforms as a campaign prop, not only would the uniform be used in a manner inconsistent with it’s purpose, it would be for purposes having nothing at all to do with the purpose of defending our country. Precisely what would the purpose be of an official duty (implied by the wearing of the uniform) of campaigning for office by a commissioned officer of the armed forces? Nothing consistent with our laws or constitution, most certainly.
Because our military is strictly subordinate to governmental authority, having candidates for office engage in campaign activities while wearing their uniforms is improper, a policy which has been long been established in DoD Instruction 1334.1. Services have established additional guidance to help clarify this instruction and apply guidance regarding service-unique circumstances, such as NAVPERS 15665I. This guidance establishes that participating in a campaign activity while in uniform is specifically prohibited by this Navy regulation, as well as in the DoD policy. Taking campaign photos is clearly a political activity, as it’s sole purpose is to develop materials to promote a political campaign, making Faisal Gill’s actions a violation of regulation and policy.
We hold those who serve in the armed forces to a higher standard in many ways, and in addition to the service and not infrequent bravery these true American heroes display, they are worthy of our respect and honor because they meet that higher standard. Members of the armed forces are subject to prohibitions that the rest of us are not, such as criminal penalties for adultery, engaging in homosexual acts, being impaired by drugs or alcohol while on duty, or failing to report when ordered to do so. Just not showing up for work can result in incarceration. And no one should be more aware of this, or more careful about adhering to these restrictions, than a military attorney who as his duty requires enforces these regulations against other members of the armed forces.
What would a citizen surmise about a candidate’s likely respect for campaign finance or election laws when as an officer in the armed forces he willfully disobeys the military regulations that he is charged with enforcing on others? Would he think he is more or less likely to follow the law? I believe this speaks to a candidate’s character, and in this case rather than believing that Faisal Gill warrants high respect for his service, his behavior indicates disabling character flaws that make him unfit to hold elected office, and possibly of the privilege of wearing the uniform of an officer in the United States Navy.
Faisal Gill should withdraw.
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