Democratic Representative Julia Brownley represents California’s 26thCongressional District, which covers most of Ventura County in Southern California. Her district includes the Naval Base Ventura County located in Oxnard. She serves on the Committee on Veterans Affairs where, according to her official bio,
…she works closely with Ventura County’s veterans community and Naval Base Ventura County, making sure we provide the services and care our veterans and their families need, in honor of their service to our country.
Yet a campaign mailer from Rep. Brownley sent out last month included a photo that has veterans and her political challenger up in arms. According to the Daily Caller’s Brendan Bordelon:
Democratic lawmaker Julia Brownley sent a political mailer to her constituents in late July featuring a woman wearing fake military attire and a German Luftwaffe insignia — apparently unaware that the costume was not an official uniform worn by U.S. personnel.
On Monday Jeff Gorell, Brownley’s Republican opponent in California’s 26 congressional district, sent out a press release highlighting the congresswoman’s taxpayer-funded faux pas.
The candidate claims that “concerned local veterans” brought to his attention a photograph featured along the top of the flyer — which also contains pictures of a young family, a child going to school, a vibrant classroom and other common campaign themes.
That photograph shows a young woman in a white, open-collared military uniform, wearing a white cap displaying a gold insignia and blue-and-gold trim.
Although it bears a fleeting resemblance to official attire worn by the U.S. Navy, no branch of the United States military wears a uniform like the one in the mailer. And the insignia on the cap is the symbol of the Bundeswehr Luftwaffe, Germany’s air force.
A look at all of the Bundeswehr’s official uniforms offers no similar outfit in any branch of the Germany military, lending credence to Gorell’s speculation that the picture is “a purchased stock photo of a model in a costume contrived from various emblems to look like an official [U.S.] naval uniform.”
“This gaff is disrespectful to those who have worn the uniform of the United States,” Gorell continues, calling it “indicative of a fundamental lack of understanding of veterans and the military by Brownley, her staff, and her political advisors.”
The gaffe is indeed disrespectful [full disclosure: my husband is a Naval officer who regularly drills at the NBVC]. Adding insult to injury is the fact that in spite of Brownley’s implied support for education, while she served as Chair of the California State Assembly Committee on Education, not once did she vote in support of parental choice programs, including ones that would have freed California students from chronically failing and unsafe schools.
If lawmakers like Brownley really want to help members of the military and their families, as well as all American families, they would be supporting parental choice programs. One such program lets parents deposit a portion of what states spend on their children to attend public schools into education savings accounts (ESAs). With those funds parents can pay for private school tuition, tutoring, online courses, and even save for future education expenses such as college.
Ultimately, lawmakers such as Brownley shouldn’t fake support of military members. Give them real educational choice.