Army soldier rallying for Paul violated military ban on political activity
January 4th, 2012
12:42 PM ET
2 years ago

Army soldier rallying for Paul violated military ban on political activity

(CNN) – Ron Paul spent Tuesday heralding his support among members of the military, but one active-duty supporter may be in trouble after lauding Paul on stage while wearing his Army uniform.

Army Cpl. Jesse Thorsen spoke during Paul's speech at his headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa, Tuesday night. Paul invited Thorsen to speak on stage after a technical glitch cut short an earlier live interview on CNN.

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Guidelines laid out in the federal Hatch Act specifically prohibit uniformed members of the military from making political speeches or taking official roles on political campaigns. Members of the military are permitted to attend political rallies, but must not be wearing their uniform while in attendance. On stage with Paul, Thorsen was wearing green Army fatigues.

On Tuesday evening, Paul Rieckhoff, executive director and founder of the veterans' advocacy organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, wrote on his Facebook page that Thorsen would likely be reprimanded.

"The soldier that spoke tonight on behalf of Ron Paul is gonna be in a bit of trouble," Rieckhoff said. "Politics in uniform is a big no-go. And Paul and his campaign should know better. Troops are bound by the (Uniform Code of Military Justice)."

Paul called Thorsen on stage during his caucus-night speech in Iowa Tuesday, saying the active duty Army corporal had been with his campaign for "quite a few years."

"He's been serving in the military for ten years, and he's been overseas a lot," Paul said.

During his address to Paul's supporters, Thorsen lauded the White House hopeful's foreign policy platform.

"If there's any man out there that has a vision for this country, it's definitely him," Thorsen told the crowd. "His foreign policy is by far, hands down, better than any candidates out there, and I'm sure you all know that."

Thorsen said being on stage with Paul was "like meeting a rock star."

Paul's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

–CNN's Dana Bash and Adam Levine contributed to this report.

Also see:

Paul: Gingrich a 'chickenhawk'

Iowa outcome: What it means for the president

McCain backs former foe Romney over Senate colleague Santorum

Romney NH ad alleges Obama broke promises


Filed under: 2012 • Ron Paul
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Miztir E

    Sometimes you got to speak up and deal with the consequences later. I salute this soldier,you should too.

    January 4, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. Not Surprising

    Throw the book at him. There's a reason members of the military are not allowed to do this; we live in a democracy, not a state where the military is allowed to directly influence elections.

    January 4, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. Not Surprising

    As expected of a Paul supporter. There seems to be an effect he has on them where they ignore all of his faults and the illegitimacy (and illegality) of his ideas and positions.

    January 4, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. insight iowa

    I was wondering. My brother is Iowa National Guard and when I was watching the voting process last night I saw a few men and women in uniform casting their votes and remembered by brother telling me this rule. But then when I saw this man on stage giving this speech I thought two things: One: He was in big trouble – or – Two: It's a set up and he is not active.

    January 4, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Sounds like rules were broken by the soldier and the encouragement of the campaign. Didn't the Paul campaign say that he had been with them for "ten years"?

    January 4, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    And Paul and his campaign should know better. Troops are bound by the (Uniform Code of Military Justice)."
    ------------------------
    Paul did know better. He just didn't abide by the rules. The same way that he wouldn't abide by them if he got anywhere near the White House, which of course he won't.
    It was a strategically calculated risk.
    Sneaky, old, dangerous fox "cool" Paul is.

    January 4, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    OK, slap him on the wrist and remind everybody this is a big no-no. Quite frankly, I think it should be extended to police and fire fighters wearing their uniforms at political events. Makes perfect sense for the same reason as it applies to the military.

    January 4, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Get Real

    But, but but Ron Paul is Mr. Super Freedom!! This is a conspiracy against freedom and Ron Paul!! *rolls eyes*

    January 4, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. Thomas

    What dose the Tattoo on Jesse Thorsen neck say ?

    January 4, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. Malory Archer

    At first I was willing to give the Corporal the benefit to the doubt, thinking he was young and unaware of the uniform policy. However, after reading further into the article that he's been in the Army for 10 years, he has no excuse! And he's a CORPORAL AFTER TEN YEARS???!!! TEN YEARS???!!! REALLY???!!! Either there are other conduct issues in his background, or he's, as my old CSM used to say, "he's ate up like a soup sandwich." Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Paul IMO.

    January 4, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  11. Woman In California

    Look at RP in this picture. He's smiling as if he supports this kind of behavior. This is unacceptable and Mr. Thorsen knows better. Another reason RP is considered crazy and unelectable.

    January 4, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. Marla

    As a long-time military wife, I am baffled at the support that Paul is getting from these young active duty military members. Ron Paul would be disastrous for the military. My husband and I prefer what we are seeing in the Obama administration – slow, steady intelligent management of military affairs.

    January 4, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. CitizenCollins

    any miltary personnel willing to support peace shoudl be recognized as doing their true duty to their Country.
    any reprimand would be solely the result of cowardice acts commonly found in the leadership of today's military and the White House clown.

    January 4, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Rules and laws are for liberals, not libertarians. If you disagree with it, then just ignore it. Right?

    January 4, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. OnlyRonPaul

    He must be punished. Punish him for supporting the only presidential candidate in my lifetime who promotes peace. Punish that soldier.

    January 4, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. Bruce

    Ron Paul was a Colonel in the US Air Force…he should have known better. Now this poor kid will suffer the consequences of a bad decision that Ron Paul made. And you people want this idiot to run the country?

    January 4, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. Colby

    I am more appalled that CNN is spinning their censorship against a soldier. Really!? CNN does not want people to know about Ron Paul's 'kooky' foreign policy. They do not want you to see a soldier call for peace. They want you to e scared of Iran, and how they want to wipe Israel off the earth. That's right. They want to sacrifice our friends and family for another country.

    January 4, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. Vet for Ron Paul

    Big No-No... By being in uniform he is stating that the US Army supports Ron Paul (and only him). This is why Soldiers are not allowed to do this.

    January 4, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. johnway

    If he has been serving for 10 years and is only a corporal, this is likely not the first time he has been in trouble. He should at a minimum be a sergeant, more likely a staff sergeant, possibly SFC 9would depend on many things).

    Could just be a really tough MOS to get promotion in; points can be very high and hard to get to depending on the MOS. But since he is a corporal, and not a specialist, that means he is in an MOS that requires leadership roles be filled by those of lower rank, so the higher ranks should be availabale fairly readilly. I see the combat infantry badge, but that doesn't mean he is in infantry still, just that he was at some point.

    January 4, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Robert

    The soldier should have known better......there r some thing you just do not do in Uniform!

    January 4, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. Matt

    Jesse knew what he was doing last night...knew he was taking his career into his hands. What he did took bravery and courage, much like what Ron Paul is trying to do for our country. Bravo to them both!

    January 4, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. Indy

    He may have done wrong but at least someone finally spoke up against the Republican war machine. When the Republicans start a war with Iran I hope they realize that they will also be fighting China and Russia at the very least and there very well could be more countries standing up with Iran on any invasion.

    January 4, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. False

    Whoever is trying to get Thorsen in trouble obviously has either not read the bill, or did not understand it. It says nowhere that a soldier of the US Army cannot be in uniform at a rally and participate in speeches or other activites with political organizations while in uniform. The Hatch Act outlawed coercion and threats for votes and against federal employees (civil servants) to favor a partisan political group or candidate, (the military are excluded from civil servants). Thorsen did nothing wrong. Nor did Paul's campaign. This is merely more irrational attempts to discredit Ron Paul and his supporters. Bravo, CNN. You've done it again.

    January 4, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. NateOLYWA

    Paul and the Soldier should know better, especially a Corporal. This violated the UCMJ and the Hatch act. He'll be a Private soon.

    January 4, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. Miss Such-and-Such

    I could have sworn I've seen other military guys in their uniforms expressing their political opinions before. This is definitely the only story I've heard of a guy like that getting singled out for it. Perhaps the military is simply upset that there is at least one antiwar candidate.

    January 4, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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