The Ron Paul presidential campaign refused to assist the Army in its investigation into the activities of an Army reservist who spoke, while in uniform, in support of the Texas congressman at an event in Iowa.
A report published by the Associated Press on Tuesday reveals that the news organization filed a Freedom of Information Act with the Army requesting the release of documents related to the military’s inquiry into the endorsement by Corporal Jesse Thorsen of the GOP presidential hopeful in January.
The Army launched an investigation into the matter presumably prompted by a belief that Thorsen had violated a Defense Department regulation prohibiting uniformed service members from actively assuming an openly political posture.
The directive in question, No. 1344.10 issued in February of 2008 mandates that:
members on active duty should not engage in partisan political activity, and that members not on active duty should avoid inferences that their political activities imply or appear to imply official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement
While such rules make sense, there is one problem in applying it to Jesse Thorsen: he spoke at the Ron Paul rally in January 2012, but he’d been off active duty since October 2011.
On the other hand, Section 4.4.1 of Directive No. 1344.10 may cover Thorsen’s appearance. That paragraph reads:
Subject to any other restrictions in law, a member of the Armed Forces not on active duty may take the actions or participate in the activities permitted in subparagraph 4.1.1., and may take the actions and participate in the activities prohibited in subparagraph 4.1.2, provided the member is not in uniform and does not otherwise act in a manner that could reasonably give rise to the inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement.
There is no doubt that Thorsen was in uniform and that he was not on active duty. The relevant question is whether Thorsen’s wearing of his uniform reasonably gave rise to the restricted inferences.
Undoubtedly the appropriate application of these Defense Department guidelines formed the principal part of the Army’s investigation into Thorsen’s impassioned appeal to his fellow Americans on behalf of Ron Paul.
Documents obtained by the AP indicate that the investigation was hindered by the Paul camp’s refusal to participate with the Army. According to information in the AP story, the military investigator made “numerous calls,” left many “messages and voice mails” all of which went unanswered by Paul representatives in Iowa.
The investigator from Thorsen’s unit, the Dubuque, Iowa-based 389th Combat Engineer Battalion, Bradley Borgos, writes in a memo included in the cache of documents obtained by the AP: “Multiple attempts were made to contact the Ron Paul campaign. Further time was requested to seek out a response. Despite multiple attempts, no one from the campaign responded to my inquiries.”
The record indicates that Borgos was assigned the task of looking into Thorsen’s appearance at the Iowa event and whether or not there any evidence of cooperation between the corporal and officials of the Ron Paul presidential campaign prior to the interview and the subsequent speech.
When contacted for a response, a representative speaking on behalf of the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign, said that he was “looking into the matter.”
The video of Thorsen standing on stage with the candidate was run over and over on the all of the 24-hour news channels. Prior to his remarks on stage, Thorsen, 28, gave an interview with a CNN reporter working at the Paul Headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa that night after the caucus (January 3) wherein he explicitly endorsed Ron Paul, particularly his policy of putting an immediate end to the endless (and illegal) foreign wars and “bringing the soldiers home.” “I’ve been in the military ten years now and all ten years have been during war time. I’d like to see a little peace,” Thorsen added.
Later, at the rally held after the interview, Ron> Paul summoned Thorsen to the stage and Thorsen obliged, telling the crowd, “we don’t need to be picking fights overseas” and said meeting Ron Paul was “like meeting a rock star.”
After Thorsen stepped away from the podium, Paul addressed the crowd remarking that Thorsen’s message was “very powerful,” and reminding the throng of supporters “we all know where the active duty crowd sends their money.”
The candidate’s claim to be the recipient of the lion’s share of campaign contributions from active duty military is borne out by the evidence presented in an article published on the Yahoo! Finance site.
That story from February reports that:
Especially notable is that Paul raised about triple the amount Obama received and about six times that of all currently-competing Republicans — Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Buddy Roemer, and Rick Santorum — combined.
Taken together, this means Dr. Paul raised approximately double the money from active military than all the candidates from both parties combined.
Romney and Gingrich each received around $10,000, meaning Paul trumps them by about 15 times in a head-to-head matchup.
The AP reports that the Army began its inquiry into Thorsen’s activities in Iowa in March and then enlarged the scope of the investigation in order to facilitate a “look at Thorsen’s background after news reports showed he was arrested in connection with breaking into a home in Florida in 2004.”
Curiously, the AP account provides no evidence of Thorsen’s criminal behavior, despite being replete with excerpts from the file compiled by the Army during its investigation.
A cursory web search by this author resulted in a record of a couple of arrests in Florida in 2006, posted on various internet sites along with the obligatory mug shots.
One consequence of the investigation was a recommendation by Thorsen’s superior that he be reprimanded and that he be prohibited from re-enlisting as punishment for his alleged violation of the directive highlighted above, as well as for his “criminal history.”
Documents show that Thorsen’s Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Matthew Baker gave the go ahead to the suggested reprimand but demurred as to the rest of the disciplinary recommendations.
The account of the situation as told by the AP portrays Jesse Thorsen and the Paul campaign in Iowa of conspiring to co-opt the military by way of Thorsen’s uniformed praise of their man.
However, the records of the proceedings against Thorsen as summarized in the AP article also paint Thorsen in a less than flattering light, casting him in the role of rube, an unsophisticated soldier subject to the manipulation of Ron Paul operatives who should have known better than to allow Thorsen to appear in front of television cameras in his BDUs.
In what is described by the AP as part of a “sworn statement” made by Thorsen, the latter seems to support the depiction of himself a pawn played by Paul:
“I am also surprised that Ron Paul, an Air Force Officer and congressman of many years or his advisors who told me they too served in the military, would not have explained to me that wearing my uniform was in violation of regulation,” Thorsen is quoted as testifying.
All this hue and cry over Thorsen’s (and by association, Ron Paul’s) disregard for military regulations is ironic in light of the irrefutable fact that for over decades now one after the other “Commander in Chief” has unconstitutionally, unconscionably, and unapologetically manipulated our uniformed armed forces for their own political purposes, resulting in the death of thousands of those noble men and women.
Photo: In this Jan. 3, 2012 photo, Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) left, listens as Cpl. Jesse Thorsen, right, speaks during his caucus night rally, in Ankeny, Iowa: AP Images