Earlier this week, Congressman Steve Daines’ office mailed flyers across Montana, at taxpayer expense, promoting his support for veterans. One side of the mailer was a full sized picture of Representative Daines discussing veteran issues with members of the Marine Corps League. The veterans are all in uniform, and one of them can be seen holding a ceremonial rife, indicating the purpose of the Marines’ attendance was likely an honor guard, such as many League members participate in at military funerals.
Mike Lawson, The Commandant of the Department of Montana Marine Corps League, immediately expressed his concern, stating the Marine Corps League has taken the position the photo is misleading in that it gives the impression the Marine Corps League is endorsing or supporting the Congressman. Furthermore, the picture was used without consent from the Marine Corps League. The League is a non-profit, non-political veteran’s service organization with explicit bylaws prohibiting members from publicly endorsing or opposing political candidates or officials while in uniform or while participating in official Marine Corps League affairs. We wish to make it clear that the Marine Corps League neither supports nor opposes Congressman Daines, and the exploitive use of the Marines in the photograph does not indicate any support or opposition.
As veterans, we are, however, appreciative of the support given to veteran issues by all elected officials, including Congressman Daines. So, in a cooperative spirit, Steve Tozzi, State Adjutant and Paymaster for the Marine Corps League, sent a letter inviting a response from Congressman Daines. The letter went to campaign staff in Helena as well as a Strategic Communications Director in the Washington D.C. office. “We have yet to receive a response.” reports Tozzi.
The silence has exacerbated the issue, drawing attention from other veteran service organizations in the Butte area. Commandant Lawson added “Butte chapters of the United Veteran Council, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion Posts 1 and 115 are all endorsing the concerns outlined in the letter authored by the Marine Corps League.
Attached is a copy of the unanswered letter sent to Congressman Daines’ office.