2020 Election

Biden Campaign Pulls Ad After Military Leader Says His Image Was Used Without Permission

Joe Biden/Getty Images

The Biden campaign is pulling images of a retired Army general from campaign ads after he objected to the use of his likeness, Politico reported Monday.

Retired lieutenant general Sean MacFarland, the former commander of the coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, was featured in a new Biden ad that highlights the former vice president's foreign policy record and his credentials with soldiers and veterans. The video, which still features MacFarland, remains up on YouTube.

In a LinkedIn post, MacFarland said he objected to his inclusion in the political ad. "I'm not a political person, but this isn't about just me. I object to the use of ANY military personnel in uniform in political ads—full stop," he wrote in a now-deleted post. "Nobody asked permission to use my image. My request to remove it was denied. … Let's keep the military out of politics and vice versa. I think our country will be better off if we do."

After MacFarland's complaints about the ad became public this weekend, the Biden campaign said it would scrub the general's image from the ad, which shows Biden interacting with other military personnel. "In accordance with Lieutenant General MacFarland's wishes, we're in the process of removing his image from this ad," said Michael Gwin, Biden's deputy rapid response director.

This is not the first time Democrats have run afoul of concerns about civil-military relations during this year's election cycle. Earlier this month, Military Times reported that the Army disciplined the supervisor of two Army Reserve soldiers who flanked American Samoa Democratic Party leaders during a 2020 Democratic National Convention video.