Ohio Republican congressional hopeful J.R. Majewski removed the US Air Force insignia from his website on Thursday after The Daily Beast inquired about whether he had gotten permission to use the logo in compliance with Department of Defense policy.
Majewski, a Trump-endorsed Air Force veteran who served from 1999 to 2003, has been on the ropes over how he repeatedly misrepresented his combat service. Last week, he lost the support of the House GOP's campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which pulled its $960,000 ad buy from his race against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur.
On their website, the Department of Defense outlines that those seeking political office should not use "Military Service marks" as "part of political campaigns, inasmuch as it could create an appearance of endorsement for that candidate."
"Many people are unaware that these official DOD and Military Service marks are protected by law from unauthorized use," the website added.
An Air Force spokesperson told The Daily Beast in a statement that the "United States Air Force and Space Force Intellectual Property Management Office" recommends any individuals take down the logo if they aren't in compliance with ethics rules.
"The team engages with the person/business/organization requesting removal of the logo or recommend they apply for a merchandise license, if it falls under the required criteria," the office said.
The Majewski campaign also did not return a request for comment, but removed the logo after The Daily Beast inquired about its use.
The Associated Press first reported on how Majewski has attempted to embellish his military service record, going as far as to claim that he served in Afghanistan and faced, despite records showing he was deployed to Qatar instead.
He spent six months loading planes, according to records obtained by the AP, but described himself as a "combat veteran" in a Facebook ad.
As questions continue to swirl about the true nature of the candidate's military service-including another inaccurate tale about not being able to reenlist because he got in a fist fight, when it turned out he was arrested for drunk driving on a US base in Japan in September 2001, according to the AP-Majewski has seemingly run afoul of the Department of Defense's rules about using official uniforms and logos while campaigning for office.
"Veterans who serve in the military may aspire to continue their public service by running for an elected position," the policy states. "While it is natural for a candidate to want to inform voters of his or her service, Military Service marks should not be used as part of political campaigns, inasmuch as it could create an appearance of endorsement for that candidate."
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Don Christensen, a retired Air Force colonel and president of Protect Our Defenders, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending sexual assault in the military, told The Daily Beast that Majewski's error in judgement is part of a broader pattern.
"You don't want anyone to think the military has chosen a candidate, and he should know that was inappropriate," said Christensen, who served as the Air Force's chief prosecutor from 2010 to 2014. "I'm not surprised-considering the litany of lies that have been told about his service record-that he would do that. It's disappointing, but not surprising."
This isn't the first candidate that has run afoul of military guidelines.
Back in 2018, the Hawaii Army National Guard deemed that Tulsi Gabbard violated their guidelines when it came to utilizing their likeness on campaign materials.
The National Guard told her to take down several campaign ads in 2018 because they violated military ethics rules.
Back in August 2021, Majewski said in a podcast interview that he experienced a "tough time in life" after serving a tour in Afghanistan.
"I don't like talking about my military experience," Majewski said before positing that he "fought" for the US "for a lot of months" and that he'd suit up again if he could.
"My answer to most people when they ask about my military service is: I served, I served honorably, I fought for this country for a lot of months over in the Middle East, and so did a lot of people that went with me, and when I see all of these things that are going on today, if I could put my BDUs [Battle Dress Uniform] back on, if I wasn't so chubby, I'd probably try to find a way to do it," the candidate said on the One American podcast.
However, as the AP reported, Majewski was unable to reenlist because of the drunk driving incident in Okinawa.
"This mistake is now more than 20 years old," Majewski told the AP in a statement. "I'm sure we've all done something as young adults that we look back on and wonder, 'what was I thinking?' and I'm sure our parents and grandparents share these sentiments."
The candidate did not address why he initially described his punishment as being the result of a "brawl" in an Air Force dormitory.
A biographical blurb on Majewski from the NRCC depicted him as being in a squadron that was "one of the first on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11," according to the AP. As of Thursday afternoon, the NRCC still listed Majewski as one of their "young guns" in a profile page on their website.
Now, the bio page only says Majewski "served overseas, and was deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom."
In a campaign event last week, Majewski doubled down on his claims of serving in Afghanistan, saying the lack of records was simply the result of his mission being "classified."
"I was in multiple bases in Afghanistan and the time frame is clear, in 2002," Majewski said last Friday. "We flew in and out of the area of responsibility multiple times. It's almost impossible for me to tell you where I was and on what day. That's why my orders are listed as a classified location."
The Majewski campaign did not offer any further proof at the press conference.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
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