A war memorial in Kentucky admonished Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath for holding a campaign event at the site, saying, "political rallies have never been allowed."
Staff members at the Greenup County War Memorial immediately rebuked the Kentucky Democrat for exploiting the site for political purposes. Just hours after McGrath's Wednesday event, leaders said in a Facebook post the memorial "is a place to remember and celebrate veterans."
"It is not affiliated [with], nor does it support any political candidates or parties. Any political rallies are prohibited on the War Memorial property," officials said.
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According to the Facebook post, McGrath did not contact the memorial prior to the event, which was held Wednesday afternoon.
"Political rallies are not allowed, and have never been allowed. We did not have prior knowledge of her coming or we would have told her prior to arrival that she could not hold a political rally at the memorial, as we have told other political parties," the post said.
McGrath did not respond to a request for comment. The Democrat spoke to news outlets in front of the memorial, which commemorates those who died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Joined by roughly a dozen supporters, McGrath repeatedly criticized her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), saying he "hasn't invested in our state."
The Greenup County War Memorial confirmed that its post was directed at McGrath, calling the event "some kind of publicity thing, to have the news there."
Wednesday's event was not the first time McGrath has been criticized for involving unwilling participants in her campaign efforts.
In September 2019 a pair of coal miners objected after appearing in a McGrath attack ad against McConnell. The miners said they were told the footage would appear in a Black Lung Association documentary and were "shocked and outraged" to see their images featured in McGrath's ad. The campaign later obscured their faces.
"Randy and Albrow are not partisan political activists for either party, however, they are personally offended at seeing their images being used in a political attack ad that does not reflect their personal feelings or beliefs," the miners' attorney wrote in a letter to McGrath. "It is simply wrong for the McGrath campaign to use individual miners suffering from black lung disease as political pawns without their permission or consent."
McGrath also faced rebukes from Republican governors Mike DeWine (Ohio) and Larry Hogan (Md.) after using their images in another ad attacking McConnell. DeWine called McConnell a "friend" in response, saying he was "particularly disappointed" by the ad before asking McGrath to remove his image. Hogan also objected, calling the ad "not constructive."
A former Marine fighter pilot and failed congressional candidate, McGrath has received substantial support from liberal super PAC VoteVets. The group has spent more than $118,000 on ads supporting the Democrat, and has also given McGrath $10,000 in direct contributions.