Moline veteran seeks to dethrone King in Congressional 17th District ethics complaint

Illinois Republican congressional candidate Esther Joy King is the subject of an ethics complaint, claiming she apparently violated Department of Defense guidelines by wearing her military uniform in several campaign ads.

Under Ministry of Defense guidelines, members of the armed forces are prohibited from acting in a manner “which could reasonably result in the inference or appearance of sponsorship, endorsement or endorsement. official approval “.

However, that did not stop Esther Joy King from appearing in her military uniform in campaign ads and potentially violating ethical conduct in the process, according to Jim Garbett de Moline, a U.S. Army Reserve veteran. and the National Guard, which recently filed the complaint.

“You have the right to freedom of expression, but you don’t market your uniform,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for the military, but you don’t wear your uniform and you don’t say ‘combat ready’ in an advertisement. For me, that crossed a line. I think it is wrong to advertise in uniform.

King served as a JAG officer for the U.S. Army Reserve.

King, of East Moline, is a Republican candidate for Illinois’ 17th Congressional District (to be released after this year by five-term MP Cheri Bustos) and a member of the U.S. Army Reserve.

Garbett wrote in his complaint that over the past 18 months, King has frequently used his Army Reserve position to promote his candidacy for political office. He noted five campaign ads for King in which she wears her uniform, including four from the 2020 election cycle, when she lost to outgoing U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline.

“These actions are clear and consistent violations of Department of Defense policy which prohibits candidates for political office from appearing in uniform when engaging in political activity,” Garbett wrote.

He cited DOD Directive 1344.10, which states that a member of the armed forces may “not otherwise act in a manner which could reasonably result in the inference or appearance of sponsorship, endorsement or official approval.

“These actions by King are clearly inappropriate attempts to use his position in the Army Reserve to promote his candidacy for political office, although they are expressly prohibited by Department of Defense rules,” a- he writes. “I urge the Defense Ministry to take action to correct this blatant violation of its rules.”

Garbett, 76, served six years in the Army in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1974.

King campaign responses

Emily Tuttle, King’s campaign manager, made the following statement on Tuesday regarding the complaint:

“As a member of the military, Esther sees it as her duty to maintain high standards. Throughout the campaign, she consulted with her ethics officer, her army commander, her legal advisor and members of Congress who also serve in the Reserves, ”Tuttle said.

King ran unsuccessfully in Congress in 2020 against outgoing U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos.

“Fortunately, Esther, as an officer of the JAG, has read the entire Defense Ministry directive regarding the political activities of non-active members of the armed forces. This directive allows the use of military ranks, affiliations, videos and photographs with appropriate disclaimers, ”she said, noting that in every ad the disclaimer is displayed. “This complaint is a desperate and baseless political coup. “

The DOD directive states that any military information included in the campaign for political office “must be accompanied by a prominent and clearly displayed warning that neither military information nor photographs imply Department of Defense approval. or their particular military department (or the Ministry of Defense). Homeland Security for Coast Guard Members).

For example, such a disclaimer would say, “John Doe is a member of the Army National Guard. The use of his military rank, job titles and photographs in uniform does not imply the approval of the Ministry of the Army or the Ministry of Defense.

King received his JD and Masters in Tax Law from Northwestern Law School and began his legal career as a partner with Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago. She then served the State of Illinois on the Bureau of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology.

King’s current campaign website does not include a video on the homepage, noting that it is not available. His online campaign biography says:

“Esther Joy King is a battle-ready leader with a heart to serve. Esther’s training as an attorney and captain in the Army Reserve makes her ready to get things done for us in Congress, from day one.

“She learned the value of service from her parents who were missionaries on the US-Mexico border in Juarez. Even though her family didn’t have much, she was generous to those less fortunate. It was as she grew up in this life of ministry that Esther learned the values ​​of faith, family, and tireless sacrifice for others, ”the site says.

King lost to Bustos in November 2020 by a 52-48% margin. She and Republican Charlie Helmick are seeking the GOP nomination to run in November 2022, and so far six Democrats have announced their campaigns for the party’s nomination in the 17th arrondissement.


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