Republican Tom Murry, in an expensive campaign to hold on to his NC House District 41 seat against an effective challenge by Democrat Gale Adcock, appears to have stretched military rules and distorted limited experience in order to solicit votes. Murry’s campaign has been making extensive use of web ads, including Facebook promoted posts. One such ad on Facebook, showing Murry in military uniform, appears to occupy the boundaries of military rules on political activity.
Murry apparently joined the NC Army National Guard in June as a Judge Advocate General (JAG), just 4 months ago, and is now using his uniform in a campaign ad. Military rules allow the use of certain photographs in uniform in campaign literature, which accurately reflect actual performance of duty, and with a specific disclaimer, in the context of other non-military biographical information but not as the “primary graphic representation” as Murry has appeared to have done with his web ad on Facebook.
4.3. Additional Limitations on Nomination or Candidacy and Campaigning
4.3.1. Members not on active duty who are nominees or candidates for the offices described in subparagraph 4.2.1. may, in their campaign literature (including Web sites, videos, television, and conventional print advertisements):
188.8.131.52. Use or mention, or permit the use or mention of, their military rank or grade and military service affiliation; BUT they must clearly indicate their retired or reserve status.
184.108.40.206. Include or permit the inclusion of their current or former specific military duty, title, or position, or photographs in military uniform, when displayed with other non-military biographical details. Any such military information must be accompanied by a prominent and clearly displayed disclaimer that neither the military information nor photographs imply endorsement by the Department of Defense or their particular Military Department (or the Department of Homeland Security for members of the Coast Guard); e.g., “John Doe is a member of the Army National Guard. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.”
4.3.2. Members included in subparagraph 4.3.1. may NOT, in campaign literature (including Web sites, videos, television, and conventional print advertisements):
220.127.116.11. Use or allow the use of photographs, drawings, and other similar media formats of themselves in uniform as the primary graphic representation in any campaign media, such as a billboard, brochure, flyer, Web site, or television commercial. For the purposes of this policy, “photographs” include video images, drawings, and all other similar formats of representational media.
18.104.22.168. Depict or allow the depiction of themselves in uniform in a manner that does not accurately reflect their actual performance of duty. For the purpose of this policy, “photographs” include video images, drawings, and all other similar formats of representational media.
There’s little doubt that Murry has lawyered the photo and concluded that he’s only in 49% of it but there’s a certain point when you go through too many loopholes to make a point you end up down a rabbit hole. There can’t be too many situations where the “actual performance of duty” as a military attorney requires you to put your cap on your child backwards so your name shows and not count towards the percentage that you are in the photograph.
Murry’s ad also uses the phrase “FIGHTING FOR US” implying active duty in the field of battle. Other rules ban campaigning while on active duty. Murry has been campaigning for at least the last 4 months. This would be incompatible with actual active duty and the multiple meanings are exploitive.
Murry’s willingness to serve should not be discounted, but his willingness to take premature credit should give pause.
Update 1: Also promoting this photo on Twitter