Army Reserve Reprimands Soldier Who Backed Ron Paul

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – A soldier who went on national television in his military fatigues to endorse Texan Ron Paul’s presidential campaign has been reprimanded but not dismissed from the Army Reserve, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The Army determined that Jesse D. Thorsen violated policies that bar soldiers from participating in political events in their official capacities or while in uniform. Experts say a reprimand may become a problem if Thorsen seeks a promotion or could be used to justify more serious punishment if he gets in trouble again.

U.S. Army Reserve spokeswoman Angel Wallace said a letter of reprimand was placed in Thorsen’s official personnel file. Thorsen, who learned of the punishment following a two-month investigation, declined comment when reached by email. His supporters praised the news on a Facebook page dedicated to him, noting it could have been worse.

After the Iowa caucuses, Thorsen, 28, showed up in his uniform Jan. 3 to Paul campaign’s caucus night celebration at a suburban Des Moines hotel ballroom. There, he gave a live interview with CNN saying he supported Paul’s plans “when it comes to bringing the soldiers home” because he’d served for a decade in the military during wartime.

CNN cut off the interview after technical difficulties and some Paul supporters accused the network of silencing Thorsen. Paul then called him to the stage so he could finish his thoughts before giving remarks after finishing a close third in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation Republican presidential nominating contest.

“It’s an incredible moment for me. I can’t believe it. It’s like meeting a rock star,” Thorsen said while on stage. “But you know what, we’re going to go to New Hampshire. We’re all going to get involved. We’re going to keep getting online. We’re going to keep talking to people. And we are going to make sure this man is the next president of the United States.”

The reaction from the military was swift. The Army Reserve said Thorsen “stands alone in his opinions reading his political affiliation and beliefs” and launched an investigation. The Army also learned from news reports that Thorsen was convicted in connection with breaking into a home in December 2004 in Fort Myers, Fla., to steal a shotgun and other items.

The statement released Friday by the military did not address Thorsen’s criminal history, and it listed his rank as specialist. Thorsen had identified himself as a corporal, as did the military. Investigators could not find documentation that Thorsen had been promoted to corporal, but the Army Reserve statement said calling him a specialist is not a demotion.

“If you’re an officer, a letter of reprimand is a career-ender. In the lower ranks, you can sometimes overcome it,” said Greg Rinckey, a former Army attorney whose Albany, N.Y., law firm often represents soldiers and veterans. “The bigger issue is, you don’t go to political rallies in your uniform. It has to be addressed because it’s not appropriate.”

Thorsen joined the Army National Guard in Florida in 2001, then transferred to Guard units in Illinois and Colorado before joining the Army Reserve. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and is a member of an engineer company based in Des Moines. His unit falls under the 416th Theater Engineer Command out of Darien, Ill.

Paul’s campaign had no immediate comment Friday. Rinckey said the candidate and his aides should have known better than to put Thorsen in the spotlight.

But Paul’s Iowa campaign chairman, Drew Ivers, said in January that campaign officials figured Thorsen knew the military regulations before they put him on stage.

“I think it’s an impromptu happening by an enthusiastic supporter who wanted to express his support for Ron Paul’s candidacy,” he said. “I don’t think it’s worth anything more than a footnote in the annals of Iowa politics and the national Republican Party primary process.”

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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  • j

    How sad is this. I really am starting to hate this country.

    • LTCB

      Guy, ALL military know they give up many if not all of their rights going into the military. It’s actually a bit of a concession to troops who want to participate in politics that they not anounce their military involvement, rank or wear a uniform when making political speeches. It’s been this way for longer than I was in and I retired with 35 years back in 2009. Bottom line is, if he keeps his nose clean and doesn’t get into other issues, he could conceiveably stay to 20 years and retire out. I’ve wanted to say something lots of times when in uniform. You just don’t get to do that. Comment to the earlier issue with troops being barred from saying something on-line; the same rules apply. Even as a retiree, I’m not free from the restrictions.

    • boB

      I retired after 23 years in the Air Force and I can tell you that he KNEW he was not allowed to do this. You can support Ron Paul, you can have a bumper sticker, you can go on TV. But you CANNOT do it in uniform. Everyone in the military knows this so I support the military in this manner. You cannot make it appear that the military has a standing one way or another in any political affair.

    • Babba Gonish

      You cannot advocate for any political candidate while you are in uniform
      (except when a politician comes to visit you with his photo journalist entourage)

      But you can (while wearing your uniform) jump into the arms of your gay lover
      with DOD approval (like that Marine did in Hawaii a few weeks back)

      Backing Ron Paul brings discredit upon the armed services……Backing the head
      communist what’s in charge though thats fine…


    • Infinite Well

      It’s not the country, it is Washington, DC that deserves your scorn. There is too much power concentrated in it. 535 people running the show supposedly “representing” 320,000,000 American Citizens. The hierarchial nature of it and the small number of people running it make it very easy to corrupt.

      The “country” woulld be much better off if Washington, DC were either reduced in size by 90% or completely dismantled! We can rebuild after the purge!

      We need to move away from a hierarchial system and move toward a networked model of representation to reduce the corruption and increase the representation. You can corrupt one but you cannot the many.

      Have a nice moment…

      • LTCB

        Did you know that, under the Constitution, there’s supposed to be around 6,000 Congressmen rather than the 400 odd ones we have now?

      • JustinBrown

        excellent idea. I agree, it is time to rethink our relationship with the gov’t, both local and on the federal level.

      • Infinite Well


        Th hierarchy is the MAIN PROBLEM.

        Do not be fooled into thinking it is the “number” of “representitives” will magiclly fix it.

        The main weakness from a representation point of view is the hierarchy. The one at the top of the chain is who *** WE DEPEND ON *** !!!

        That is the problem!!!

        If a *** NETWORKED SYSTEM *** was employed you could corrupt a few but not the many!!!

        That is the answer!!!

        Have a nice day…

    • kmrod

      he knew he was doing wrong when he did it.

      i don’t blame the army, i blame the guy.

      • LTCB

        Hey, JustinBrown, you’re in error there. Officers have EVEN MORE RESTRICTIONS on them than the troops do. I served active enlisted USMC four years and active and reserve ARMY for thirty-one years. Retired LTC. The point is, you’re sadly mistaken. Something like this WOULD end an officer’s career. This kid’s career is NOT over unless he chooses to stop serving at the end of this enlistment. He still has a future. If I had done the same thing, IT’s OVER.

      • trepalo

        Thorsen knew it was against regulation. He put it on the line anyway. He’s taking one for the team. He deserves our support.

      • BaalAdvocate

        Are you sure you want a highly politicized military? Part of the stringent separation of the military and direct political involvement is that it can very easily turn into a junta. Our military tradition right now might not be overly amiable to the idea, but it is a distinct possibility; look at Rome. Charismatic leader + military loyal to him = overthrow of the Republic. Just sayin.

      • JustinBrown

        I was in the military for 5 years, and it is a highly out of date regulation. it is only there to serve the needs of officers and our Congress to keep ‘dirty enlisted troops’ in check.

        The military is a giant socialist organization, and Obama must love it being in charge of it!!!

      • freecheese

        I am not amazed how non-vets can be so ignorant of military matters, yet shoot their mouths off , The least they could do is research the subject before they whine, wring their hands and wet their beds !
        Yes, military members can be used as a back drop for Obama, because he IS The Commander in Chief.

      • Peter

        No blame the Army as it is a BS regulation that should be repealed. I can’t help but notice that it is OK for Obama to have a bunch of uniforms surrounding him when he feels the need to flap his gums while reading his teleprompter while at various military bases. The obvious subtext that he and his propagandists are trying to convey when he does so is that the military supports the Marxist and chief. If it goes one way then it should go the other, otherwise there should never be a military uniform within a mile of Obama and any of his BS fests.

    • jasperddbagghost

      Go light up a doobie, mucking foron.

      • Jeff

        Nice Ad Hominem

    • Working Stiff

      but its been ok for the obamabots to campaign while they are in uniform

      • Dgnb

        I agree. The hypocrisy of the military didn’t go unnoticed by me.

      • Anonymous

        Good point.

    • Indy1826

      @j This has been long standing and is part of the UCMJ

      ”Personnel, including reserve forces, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign or election events. Attendance at rallies, meetings and conventions as a spectator and not in uniform is allowed.”

      Here is the Navy’s link, the other branches are the same:

    • Paul Revere

      This is not a new rule. Any military member should know this, they beat us over the head with it enough.

      • TomB

        Will and Justin, you will not see them there in uniform at a campaign event for the President.

      • R

        There is a difference between a Soldier at an event where the Commander and Chief is going to speak and that Soldier getting up in front of the mic and proclaim that his endorsement is going to the President.

      • Jose

        True story.

      • JustinBrown

        Obama uses the military for political gain daily

      • will sherman

        agree then why do they allow military in uniform to sit behind the President at his political rallies?

      • Retired AF in MN

        In reply to Will Sherman; Very true. As much as I have always disagreed with the rule about affiliating one’s self with a political cause or party while in uniform, the fact is it IS written in the UCMJ as a no-no and this young Corporal/Specialist should have known better. But you make an excellent point about military members being included in Presidential functions/dinners/etc. as “photo ops” and “propaganda” for the POTUS. Perhaps they should examine this practice further and, if deemed a violation of the UCMJ, prosecute to include anyone who places a military member in that kind of position.

  • 457657457

    What about the flip side of this, when Obama forces soldiers to stand behind him when he makes speeches?

    • Indy1826

      Unfortunately, as “Commander and Chief” (I use That term loosely w/ O) it is up to his discretion.

      That has been a touchy subject since President Washington.

  • Hardrain77

    The irony here is that if he was caucusing for Romney and talking about how much he loves the wars, they’d have made him a General by now.

    • JustinBrown

      we need a 21st century military, one where you dont lose ALL you basic rights at the door. Otherwise, the military will continue to be used as a pawn by Congress and the President.

    • Jack

      You clearly aren’t a veteran. He shouldn’t have been in uniform or identified his military affiliation at ANY political rally. Period.

      • LTCB

        I think part of the kid’s problem was that he came from the Guard where political speech is much more tolerated and even practiced (even when in uniform). This hasn’t “killed” his career. It will be a nasty on his EER and then, after three more good ones, he’ll never hear about it again if he keeps his nose clean. The Reserves and Active forces are much more geared in to the mindset of the loss of civil rights. They get it and live it. That’s why I think it was because of where he started his career and the training he did or didn’t have. At some point, you have to look at leadership. Someone failed this kid I’d bet and didn’t make it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that this was a big time NO-NO.

      • freeslave

        kmrod: The military serves the country and not the liar and cheif?
        If thats the case then why doesnt the military stop everything they are doing, come home and serve this country and take it back from the banksters and mafia that hijacked it?? Please answer me that

      • kmrod

        “Why? I know it’s a rule, but why is it a rule to begin with?”

        because the military serves the country, not any political party.

      • Ryan

        Why? I know it’s a rule, but why is it a rule to begin with?

      • RR Worker

        Why does everyone say blah blah AND chief? It’s blah blah IN chief.

  • swimkin

    There is a a reason the majority of our military men and women support Ron Paul. Educate yourself. Ron Paul is the ONLY answer to our countries debt and sovereingty.

    • Pork Eating Crusader

      Geez, didn’t serve in the military, did ya? It doesn’t matter WHO the candidate was, it was the fact that he did his song and dance while IN uniform. Acts such as that, are now and have been against the Uniform Code Of Military Justice since the UCMJ was written…
      Educate YOURself…

      • swimkin

        My comment had nothing to do with this guy being in his uniform at the rally. I already knew he wasn’t allowed to do so. No i have never served, but my brother is a Colonel in the Army.. and he let me know he could not talk politics while in uniform or while he was overseas in Iraq. Instead, my statement was a fact reflecting that Ron Paul gets his top donations from the individuals in all branches of the military. And he gets more money from them than all the other candidates out there. I am not surprised by this man’s fervor, however, I do believe he was aware it would have put him in jeopardy.

  • recon77

    its totally ok to be in uniform for any candidate OTHER than ron paul though, we all know that…

    the regulations specifically say not for ron paul…

    • LTCB

      Mr. recon77, actually, if the ’77 relates to when you served, even when you were in this was an Article 15 UCMJ type action. A “nasty” stuck in the kid’s file is nothing if he steers clear of such errors in the future. The kid got off light. This has been “out of bounds” behavior for a mighty long time. It also isn’t a little known part of the Code. EVERYONE was told this stuff in Boot Camp. The problem for the kid is, the Guard has historically been more lenient on such things. This soldier started his career in the Guard. I suspect he lacked training. So, I blame his leadership and Command for not seeing to it that he fully understood what was and what was not allowed.

    • tnmccoy

      You are speaking like an idiot. I know many of Ron Paul supporters are certifiable, and you are just proving that. Crawl back under your damp poster.

      • mrbill321

        tnmccoy – I think your tongue-in-cheek detector is malfunctioning…

  • Mr. Reality

    I don’t like this, but soldiers know or should know not to do this. I’d like to show up in uniform to alot of things, but I don’t. Show up when you aren’t in uniform.

  • SquidVetOhio

    Obviously none of you were in the military. It is not proper for you to appear in uniform endorsing a politician. Especially the president. You can do it in civilian clothes. You are also supposed to make clear that your views do not reflect the views of your branch or the DOD. I can’t stand Obama but, you can’t have a soldier/sailor/marine campaigning against his Commander in Chief while in uniform.

    • Spirit of 76

      Can’t have him campaign against the federal president? Why not? So long as he follows Constitutional and legal orders, the “military” should have no opinion on this. He is, first, last and always a US citizen and you cannot contract that away. (I have no doubt it can be and has been forced on servicemen, at gun point, but that does not validate.)

  • snowball

    So what about Obama ordering soldiers AND THEIR FAMILIES to appear for photo ops against their will?

    • MSgt

      He can’t order anyone to stand with him for a photo op. It wouldn’t be a lawfull order and you can refuse.

    • Paul Revere

      Tasteless, so vote him out…PLEASE

    • Indy1826

      That his prerogative as “Commander and Chief.”

      • Otto Zeit

        It’s “Commander IN Chief”.

      • MSgt

        Indy1826 is probably one of the many morons I had to put up with while I served 23 years on active duty. He probably believes you are government property while you are on active duty too.

  • Mark

    That is in his official role as commander in chief of the military, every president regardless of party does this in this role. If he had soldiers in uniform behind him at a political function then I would have an issue with it. All soldiers know they can not participate in political activities while in uniform. This soldier could have done this and said what he said without issue had he not been in uniform.

  • Jim

    I can’t help but wonder WHY Paul’s campaign was ignorant to these rules? (Especially since Paul was once in the Military as well).

    I was well aware of these rules when in the Marine Corps– 20 years ago (it is long standing).

    If you wanted to do the spot– knock yourself out. Wear a suit. Sport a “High at tight” haircut. Talk about how you and others like you support whomever….

    As to others complaining about Obama posing uniformed members behind him– unfortunately, Obama is the Commander in Chief, and this fool blends Public and Campaign events with more than any other President I have ever seen.

    This reservist deserves to be reprimanded. He should have known the rules that have long been in place. Paul should also have also known (makes me wonder if they did this for more free press). The Punishment seems appropriate.

  • Agree_with_J

    “J”, you are not alone. I am ashamed of my country’s corrupt federal government and the parasitic voters who keep them in power in exchange for crumbs. Apparently the army can send a soldiers off to die in a worthless, endless war protecting heroin trades for Kharzis Afghan friends, but the soldiers can’t even openly support a candidate who would end this failed war and restore sanity to government.

  • John

    For the record, Specialist and Corporal are the exact same pay grade (E-4) in the Army. The difference is that a Corporal is considered to be an NCO, and therefore is usually in a leadership position. The USAR may have taken away his Corporal stripes and made him a Specialist. Again, this does not change his monthly pay, but it does affect his duties and responbilities, and possible his chances of future promotion.

  • Bob

    Not wise for a soldier to use his uniform in any political rally. Violates the Military code of conduct.
    But the irony is that the law is enforced only for political motives.

    • anonymous_coward

      That siad, you don’t make E-9 without a good LOR or Article 15 :D

      • MSgt

        I know a lot of E-9s that have both.

    • Klaus

      Don’t these grunts know they exist to “just follow orders” and “don’t ask questions”? That’s what makes you “brave” in America, land of the “free”.

  • M

    But, golly, if you feel like putting in a plug for Barry or Hils…by all means…please do.

  • tnmccoy

    It appears that the soldier was reprimanded for appearing in a political event in uniform—and not for backing Ron Paul. Your headlines are mis-representing the situation to garnish readers. Typical of the MSM, isn’t it?

    • Ryan

      I think it’s an accurate headline, and doesn’t say that’s why he was reprimanded. That’s where people know the story from, so it only makes since to “tag” it that way.

      • Ryan

        What about it is a lie? He was reprimanded. He backed Ron Paul. Sarcasm?

      • MSgt

        The headline isn’t just misleading, it’s a lie.

  • bwana

    War is the ultimate expression of politocs. therefore logicaly since everything is illegal anyway… whats the point. Selective enforcement. The ultimate expression of corruption. btw- lets see that draft card Barry…

    • RR Worker

      While I can’t wait for the Moron IN Cheif to be voted out, He, like me has no draft card because there was a period of about 8-10 years during the mid to late seventies and early eighties that nobody even had to register for the draft. Then it was reinstated sometime in the eighties.

  • Ryan

    I understand that this is the rule, by I don’t think it should be. Other government employees are allowed to express political views. Its supposedly about chain of command and keeping troops in line as to who’s in charge, but I’m positive that soldiers criticize decisions made by their leaders all the time, and the leadership knows it. They still follow orders, it’s their job. But what’s the danger in allowing soldiers to be citizens at the same time? They can vote. Why can’t they exercise freedom of speech too? Seriously it doesn’t seem to have any justification other than “rules are rules”, which isn’t enough in my eyes.

  • MSgt

    A Letter or Reprimand isn’t going to hurt a low ranking enlisted member for promotion. At some point one of his future Commanders will probably remove the letter from his record as he or she would have every legal right to do.

  • Steve

    And Ron Paul, like the idiot he is, obviously didn’t know that this public appearance by Thorsen in uniform would be against the law. Some Commander-in-Chief he would make….NOT!

    • Otto Zeit

      Nobody asked for your opinion on Ron Paul — and nobody’s interested.

      • Steve

        How novel someone expressing an opinion on a comment page! How presumptuous must I be and how stupid Ron Paul is ….and his supporters to not know anything about the UCMJ that Ron as someone who wants to be President or a pain in the butt, I can’t tell the difference, needs to know as President. I’m sure the Constitutional Law expert that occupies the Commander-in-Chief chair right now didn’t know it either.

  • Douglas Gray

    This is typical of DRUDGEREPORT. The proper headline would be ” Soldier disciplined for speaking at political rally while in uniform”. But on DRUDGE, the title implies he was disciplined for publicly supporting Ron Paul. DRUDGE does this all the time

    • Trap

      Douglas, please try reading the entire article including the CBS TITLE, where it clearly states “Army Reserve Reprimands Soldier Who Backed Ron Paul” blaming drudge clearly illustrates your uninformed biased opinion.

      Man are we in trouble or what?

    • Ryan

      *gasp* Matt Drudge sensationalizing something?! Preposterous… Lol.

  • Drake

    What I suspect: the soldier knew it was against the regulations, and had the balls to do it anyway. Just speculation on my part.

    Personally, I think it’s a stupid regulation. Soldiers should be free to express their beliefs – maybe not in uniform, but why are they not even allowed to participate after specifying their military status? That makes no sense.

    • Steve

      If you doubt the wisdom of this part of the UCMJ, check out General Edwin Walker.

  • Barry Cooper

    This rule was instituted during the Vietnam era to keep people like John Kerry from wearing their uniforms and spouting out completely fabricated claims about American atrocities.

    That this man could risk his life overseas, then face punishment using his freedom of speech is horrible. F^&^k the Army, and f&*( the cowardly bureaucrats who enabled this.

    This nation has suffered greatly, and contiues to suffer, from the intellectual landmines planted across the landscape by vicious leftists intent on destroying everything that is good on Earth.

  • Knight Hawkings

    Sorry he blatantly broke a long standing and often highlighted rule of not wearing the uniform at public political events, for that there had to be repercussions just like there have been in almost every case of this in the past. Shame on CNN and the Paul campaign as well because they know this is a no-no and had no problem exploiting it. It’s exactly what the rule is designed to prevent.

  • alvin firpo

    the easy way to handle this situation is to tell the united states army to f*ck off!

  • Jeff Kalingrad

    “Doctors destroy health,
    lawyers destroy justice,
    psychiatrists destroy minds,
    scientists destroy truth,
    major media destroys information,
    religions destroy spirituality and
    governments destroy freedom.” ~ Michael Ellner


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