VA Reiterates That NRA Violated Ban On “Partisan Activities” By Filming Political Ad At Military Cemetery
VA’s National Cemetery Administration: Political Ads Filmed At Cemeteries “Are Not Compatible With Preserving The Dignity And Tranquility Of The National Cemeteries”
Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP & TIMOTHY JOHNSON
As the National Rifle Association continues to use footage it filmed at a national cemetery in political attack ads, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration (NCA) reiterated to Media Matters that had the NRA asked permission to film, the request would have been denied.
So far, the NRA has used footage it filmed at Alexandria National Cemetery in political ads targeting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Florida Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy. In the ad targeting Clinton, which was released in June, Mark Geist, a survivor of the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, terror attacks, criticized Clinton’s handling of the attacks while walking next to gravestones. Footage from the same cemetery again appeared in a September Benghazi-themed ad targeting Murphy that the NRA is spending nearly $900,000 to air.
Asked about the NRA’s continued use of the footage, NCA spokesperson Jessica Schiefer told Media Matters, “NCA did not receive a request from the NRA to film the subject advertisement. If we had received such a request, we would have denied it based on the partisan content. Partisan activities are prohibited on national cemetery grounds as they are not compatible with preserving the dignity and tranquility of the national cemeteries as national shrines.”
As Schiefer explained, “As always, our Veterans, their families and survivors are our top priority. To maintain the sanctity and decorum of VA National Cemeteries as national shrines, our filming policy states that filming may not be used for the expression of partisan or political viewpoints, or for uses that are (or may be interpreted as) an endorsement of a commercial entity.”
According to NCA filming rules, “Political activities, including filming of campaign ads, are not permitted on cemetery grounds.”
VoteVets.org also criticized the NRA’s continued use of the footage, telling Media Matters that “the NRA is doubling down” on “this despicable approach to campaigning.” In its full statement, VoteVets.org encouraged people to sign its petition asking for the NRA to pull its ad:
Earlier this year, the National Rifle Association ran a television ad attacking Hillary Clinton that was filmed inside of a veterans' cemetery.
It was a disgrace. The Veterans of Foreign Wars even took steps to condemn the ad by saying they "don't want any candidate using our dead to score political points."
But the NRA is doubling down, and this week they released a second ad in Florida featuring military graves, but this time in addition to attacking Hillary Clinton, the spot also trains its sights on Democrat Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign.
This is deplorable, and we hope that if we can bring light to this despicable approach to campaigning we can get the NRA to pull the spot.
When John McCain's ad team did the same in 1999, the Senator admitted wrongdoing and removed the footage. Further, the spots violate Veterans Affairs policies. Hopefully by making our voices heard, the NRA will pull the spots from the air.
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars repeated its past criticism of the NRA for filming in military cemeteries, which stated, “Don’t use our dead to score political points. We fought for everybody’s First Amendment rights and everything, but we don’t want any candidate using our dead to score political points.”