McConnell Challenger Video Buries Marine, DoD Endorsement Disclaimer

(Updated) McGrath is a retired Marine lieutenant colonel

Amy McGrath / Getty Images
July 9, 2019

Democrat Amy McGrath, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who announced Tuesday she is running against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), didn't include disclaimers about the Department of Defense and Marines not endorsing candidates as she invoked her military service in her launch video.

While she did include a disclaimer at the end of the ad, Department of Defense rules outline what is expected of military members not on active duty who are candidates for political office, which includes that any military information "must be accompanied" by a "prominent and clearly displayed disclaimer" that neither the information nor photographs suggest endorsement by the Pentagon nor their military department:

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):

... 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 nonmilitary 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."

McGrath's launch video does not include a disclaimer during the references to her military service at the :35 and 2:05 marks, although it does in the final few seconds of the ad over an image of her uniform.

Retired Brigadier General Don Bolduc, a Republican and decorated Army veteran who led a Special Forces team through Afghanistan on horseback to fight the Taliban, included a disclaimer in his launch video for his campaign against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.).

The disclaimer is visible around the :08 second mark.

McGrath lost a 2018 House race against Republican incumbent Andy Barr in Kentucky's Sixth District.

McConnell has served six terms in the Senate, and he most recently defeated Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in 2014 by 15 points.

UPDATE: 8:26 P.M.: This article previously stated no disclaimer appeared in McGrath's ad, but one did at the end of the ad. This has been corrected.