In her WorldNetDaily column, Melanie Morgan falsely asserted that she had "pointed out" in a column the previous week that VoteVets.org's Jon Soltz is "violating the spirit of Army rules and regulations" by engaging in political activism while serving in the Army Reserve. In fact, Morgan specifically claimed that Soltz had committed "a violation of the U.S. Military's Uniform Code of Military Justice" by his actions. Morgan cited a military "press release" to back up her claim, but the release states that the regulations it cited apply to "active-duty service members."
In an August 17 column at the conservative news website WorldNetDaily, right-wing radio talk show host Melanie Morgan falsely asserted that she had "pointed out" in a column the previous week that VoteVets.org co-founder and chairman Jon Soltz is "actually violating the spirit of Army rules and regulations" by engaging in political activism while serving in the Army Reserve. She also complained of being attacked by "[c]rackpot organizations such as Media Matters for America" for making that claim. In fact, as Media Matters documented, Morgan did not accuse Soltz of violating the "spirit" of the law in her August 10 WorldNetDaily column; rather, she accused him of violating the letter of the law, specifically claiming that Soltz had committed "a violation of the U.S. Military's Uniform Code of Military Justice" by his actions.
Moreover, to back up her new claim that Soltz violated the "spirit of Army rules and regulations," Morgan cited a "press release issued before the 2004 election" -- apparently a July 12, 2004, Armed Forces Press Service "news article" -- quoting what she called the "pertinent passage" from the article: "They're not permitted to make public political speeches, serve in any official capacity in partisan groups, or participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions." But Morgan didn't note that the article specifically states such prohibitions on political activism apply to "active-duty service members":
Today, [Steve] Epstein [director of the Department of Defense (DoD) General Counsel's Standards of Conduct Office] said two sets of rules help protect the integrity of the political process: a DoD directive for active-duty service members and the Hatch Act for federal civilians. These rules keep the military out of partisan politics and ensure that the workplace remains politically neutral, he said.
That's not to imply that military members and civilian employees can't participate in politics. Epstein said DoD encourages both groups to register to vote and vote as they choose, and to urge others to vote. Both groups can sign nominating petitions for candidates and express their personal opinions about candidates and issues but only if they don't do so as representatives of the armed forces. Also, all federal employees can make contributions to political organizations or candidates.
Beyond that, the list of dos and don'ts differs widely, depending on whether the employee is an active-duty service member, a rank-and-file Civil Service employee, a political appointee or member of the career Senior Executive Service, Epstein said.
Of all DoD employees, the men and women in uniform have the most restrictions regarding political activity, he explained. A 1993 revision to the Hatch Act freed most Civil Service employees to engage in political activities outside the workplace that were once forbidden, although many restrictions still apply.
For example, service members as well as government civilians can attend political meetings or rallies. Military members can attend only as spectators and not in uniform. They're not permitted to make public political speeches, serve in any official capacity in partisan groups, or participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions.
On the other hand, civilian employees governed by the Hatch Act may be active in and speak before political gatherings or serve as officers of political parties or partisan groups. They also are permitted to manage campaigns, distribute literature, write political articles or serve as a spokesperson for a party or candidate.
The Armed Forces Press Service news article provides links at the end to the Hatch Act and "DoD Directive 1344.10, Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty" (emphasis added). While the link provided to DoD Directive 1344.10 is no longer active, an updated version of the directive issued August 2, 2004 (less than two months after the Armed Forces Press Service news article was published), as its name indicates, applies only to active duty personnel, including reservists while engaged in annual training duty.
In addition, in her August 17 column, Morgan baselessly suggested that Soltz had not, in fact, fought in Iraq, writing that VoteVets.org "funnel[s] money to those who wish to undermine America's security by accepting defeat in the war against the radical Muslim jihadists Soltz claims to have fought." In fact, in his VoteVets.org biography, Soltz states that "[f]rom May to September 2003, [he] served as a Captain during Operation Iraqi Freedom, deploying logistics convoys with the 1st Armored Division." Soltz repeated this information as part of his March 13, 2007, sworn testimony before the House Veterans Affairs Committee's subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, and stated during his sworn testimony, "I myself am an Iraq war veteran." Soltz is now a reservist.
Finally, Morgan called Soltz a "hypocritical cockroach" -- a characterization repeated from her August 10 column -- stating that "[h]e needs to be stomped on and neutralized before he and his ilk can silence military support for the mission in Iraq.
From Morgan's August 17 WorldNetDaily column:
Last week, I wrote of the hypocrisy and irresponsibility of Army reservist Jon Soltz, co-founder of the defeatist organization VoteVets.org. A few weeks ago, Soltz attacked the integrity of a fine, patriotic member of the military, U.S. Army Sgt. David Aguina, because he dared to attend a panel sponsored by the moonbat organization DailyKos and ask for evidence that "the surge" has made Iraqi violence worse. Soltz unleashed a vitriolic diatribe against Aguina, accusing him of improperly participating in political activities while wearing the uniform.
Only one problem: Soltz participates in overtly political activities while wearing his uniform.
I pointed this out last week. While Soltz berated Aguina for his completely legal, non-partisan act of asking an intelligent question, Soltz IS actually violating the spirit of Army rules and regulation.
Crackpot organizations such as Media Matters for America have since attacked me and accused me of "making up" Army rules. As usual, Media Matters provides more bark than fact.
A press release issued before the 2004 election by the military reminded service members of how they can and cannot participate in political activities. Here is the pertinent passage: "They're not permitted to make public political speeches, serve in any official capacity in partisan groups, or participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions."
Soltz seems to have forgotten this, at least when it is convenient for him. His organization, Vote Vets, is clearly political and partisan. Its website lists seven candidates whom the organization supports. All are members of the Democrat [sic] Party.
In addition, Vote Vets, which Soltz chairs, operates a political action committee, funneling money to those who wish to undermine America's security by accepting defeat in the war against the radical Muslim jihadists Soltz claims to have fought. If chairing a political action committee isn't participating in partisan political campaigns and conventions, then what is?
As a final insult, Soltz also posted a photo of himself in uniform on this clearly partisan political website.
Jon Soltz is still a hypocritical cockroach. He needs to be stomped on and neutralized before he and his ilk can silence military support for the mission in Iraq.