Republicans insist there was no impropriety:
The Larimer County Republican organization said that because it merely honored the soldiers instead of requiring their participation, they did not violate the code.
“(The soldiers) were not there endorsing a candidate, and they were not speaking,” said Nancy Hunter, chairwoman of the Larimer County Republicans. Hunter said the organization seeks out Iraq and Afghanistan veterans each year to honor at the Lincoln Day Dinner. Forsyth attended the dinner as someone’s date and was asked at the last minute to be honored, Hunter said.
Musgrave’s office sounds a little less sure:
“The best info the congresswoman received is there is no violation in honoring Iraqi veterans, and that’s what happened,” said Guy Short, Musgrave’s chief of staff. “It’s unfortunate people are trying to make political hay out of an attempt to honor veterans of the Iraq war.”
Musgrave’s opponent Angie Paccione also responded:
Neither party should ever use the military as a prop, said Rep. Angie Paccione, D-Fort Collins, who is running against Musgrave in the 4th District Congressional race. “It shouldn’t matter if (soldiers) are Republican or Democratic because they pledge allegiance to the flag,” Paccione said. “That’s why the code is there, that’s why it’s inappropriate and that’s why it shouldn’t be done.”
Paccione emphasized, however, that while this might have violated military code, she doesn’t want this to distract her, her opponent or Colorado residents from political and social issues at hand.
I think the issue involves more than whether there was a technical violation of the military regulations. It concerns whether there is a concerted attempt by Republicans to use those in military service for political gain. Columnist Robert Novak raised the issue last month:
The Bush administration is going directly to the public with its war message. Raul Damas, associate director of political affairs at the White House, has been on the phone directly to Republican county chairmen to arrange local speeches by active duty military personnel to talk about their experiences in Iraq. To some Republican members, this unusual venture connotes a desire to go directly to the people to sell the president’s position without having to deal with members of Congress.