According to a press release issued by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) office on Wednesday, U.S. Army officials at North Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal may have used federal government resources to distribute to base civilian and uniformed personnel “racist and partisan political propaganda.”
A statement from Brooks called the effort to be in direct violation of the Hatch Act and any number of military regulations.
As pointed out by the release, the email invited “All soldiers and (Department of the Army) Civilian Personnel” to attend “Operation Inclusion” seminars July 8 and 9 at Redstone Arsenal’s Bob Jones Auditorium at the Sparkman Center Complex.
The email was sent by “Chanley P. Pickard,” who, according to Brooks’ office, is part of the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Center, through an official government email address: “Chanley.email@example.com.”
“The invitation was sent to an unknown number of recipients, but likely in the thousands if the invitation went to all Redstone Arsenal Army civilian and uniformed personnel,” the release stated. “The U.S. Army email further states it is by the ‘U.S. Army Equity & Inclusion Agency’ and ‘Assistant Secretary of the Army – Manpower and Reserve Affairs.'”
“Disturbingly, the Army chose Redstone Arsenal as the first location on a tour that will cover all Army 4 star commands,” the release continued. “The illegal, racist and politically partisan material includes a pyramid graphic that claims the following are evidence of “White Supremacy,” and, hence, racism.”
The “propaganda” in question included a number of partisan statements and slogans:
“Education Funding from Property Taxes”
“Calling the Police on Black People”
Using the phrase “All Lives Matter”
“Denial of White Privilege”
“Celebration of Columbus Day”
Talking about American “Exceptionalism”
Stating “There’s Only One Human Race”
Flyer as follows (courtesy of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks’ office):
Brooks offered the following statement criticizing the gesture:
Congressman Brooks said, “U.S. Army personnel have violated the Hatch Act and any number of military regulations by distributing materials that, among other offensive things, labels president Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan or ‘Celebration of Columbus Day’ as white supremacist. The Hatch Act prohibits federal government executive branch employees from engaging in defined, banned political activity. ALL U.S. Army civilian and uniformed personnel who drafted, approved or sent this racist and politically partisan email, using government resources, should be prosecuted for their Hatch Act violations and summarily fired for blatantly and illegally injecting themselves into partisan political activities on government time using federal taxpayer money.”
Brooks added, “Heads should roll. I ask the U.S. Army to investigate this matter and send me a report of (a) who was involved in these Hatch Act violations, (b) whether they will be prosecuted pursuant to the Hatch Act, and (c) whether they will be terminated for their illegal conduct (as I would expect of any federal government employee who blatantly disregards and violates the Hatch Act). The U.S. Army is not the place for political indoctrination or reeducation experimentation. These vile violators of the Hatch Act should be made an example as a stern warning to other federal employees that no one is above the law when it comes to illegally using federal government resources to promote racial division and advance a partisan political agenda.”
Brooks continued, “In March 2018, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel advised executive branch employees that, while on duty or in the federal workplace, they may not engage in activity directed toward the success or failure of President Trump’s reelection campaign. More specifically, while on duty or in a federal workplace, federal employees are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or distributing items from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns, like ‘Make America Great Again,’ ‘#MAGA,’ or, in the alternative, items directed at the failure of President Trump’s reelection campaign. Just as federal employees may not use federal time and resources to promote ‘Make America Great Again’, neither may employees use federal time and resources to denigrate ‘Make America Great Again’.”
Brooks concluded, “Numerous Redstone Arsenal employees have expressed outrage to me about the U.S. Army blatantly violating the Hatch Act and, in effect, labeling patriotic Americans ‘White Supremacists’ and racists if they say or do dozens of things outlined in the U.S. Army email. I have written to U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy requesting the following information:
1. Who within the Department of the Army is responsible for the creation of the email and document?
2. Who within the Department of the Army approved the email and document?
3. Pursuant to the creation and approval of the document, was there a violation of either the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10?
4. If a violation of the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10 is found to have occurred, will those responsible be held accountable for their actions?
5. If it is found that a violation occurred (which seems pretty obvious), how will those federal employees be held accountable for their illegal conduct?
I aim to get to the bottom of this outrageous propaganda and see that those responsible are appropriately prosecuted and fired.”
Brooks’ office also issued a letter to Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy, which was copied to President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, among others:
July 8, 2020
The Honorable Ryan D. McCarthy
Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon, Room 3E700
Washington, D.C. 20310-0101
Dear Secretary McCarthy:
It has come to my attention that earlier this week, as part of Operation Inclusion, an official invitation to an Army Listening Session with a Headquarters, Department of the Army (HDQA) Inclusion Advisory Team was sent to Department of Defense uniform and civilian personnel and, perhaps, even Department of Defense contractors in the private sector. Appallingly, the invitation included an overtly political Army document, which included a chart stating that the phrase “Make America Great Again” or “Celebrating Columbus Day” or “Calling the Police on Black People” or using the phrase “All Lives Matter” or “Denying White Privilege” (among many, many other things) constitutes “white supremacy” and, therefore, racism!
The federal Office of Special Counsel has issued guidance declaring use of the phrase “Make America Great Again” as political activity. Conversely, attacking the phrase “Make America Great Again” is similarly political activity barred by the Hatch Act. Distribution of materials with the phrase, on federal property or using government material, is a violation of the Hatch Act (P.L. 76-252), which applies to all DoD civilian employees, Reservists, and members of the National Guard. Additionally, as guidance from the Office of Special Counsel makes clear, distributing items with the term “Make America Great Again”, whether in support of or opposition to President Trump’s reelection campaign “would constitute political activity if tied to candidates or political parties.”
As you may also be aware, DoD Directive 1344.10, on Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, specifically states in section 4.1.2, that “a member of the Armed Forces on active duty shall not:”… use official authority or influence to interfere with an election, affect the course or outcome of an election, solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue, or require or solicit political contributions from others.”
The U.S. Army’s use of a graphic that claims “Make America Great Again” (among many other things) constitutes “white supremacy” and, thus, racism, in a clearly marked Army product distributed to U.S. Army uniform and civilian personnel working on or for Redstone Arsenal (a major U.S. military base) using an official email account is in violation of the law, federal regulations, and DoD Directives.
Therefore, I respectfully request the following information:
1. Who within the Department of the Army is responsible for the creation of the flyer/brochure and email?
2. Who within the Department of the Army approved the flyer/brochure and email?
3. Pursuant to the creation, approval, and distribution of the flyer/brochure and email,
was there a violation of either the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10?
4. If a violation of the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10 is found to have occurred (a violation seems pretty obvious), will those responsible be held accountable for their actions?
5. If it is found that a violation occurred, how will those federal employees be held accountable for their illegal conduct?
Listening sessions, as means to check the pulse of the workforce and to foster communication among managers and employees, can be appropriate. Including overtly political materials in the invitation for such an event is completely inappropriate and, in this instance and in my view, illegal. Further, the inclusion of such materials serves only to ostracize segments of the workforce and create racial division, rather than minimize it. What occurred is absolutely unacceptable, and I expect Army leadership to fully investigate whether this incident violated the Hatch Act or any Department of Defense regulation and to appropriately hold those responsible accountable to the fullest extent possible.
There are better ways to accomplish this mission of Operation Inclusion without demonizing and asserting that those who support President Trump are “White Supremacists” and, therefore, racists. By including such outlandish propaganda in Army documents, the Army will only continue to sow divisions among their workforce.
Member of Congress
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
The Honorable Mark T. Esper
Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon, Room 3E880
Washington, D.C. 20310-1000
U.S. Office of Special of Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
Washington, DC 20036-4505
Dr. Juanita Christensen
U.S. Army CCDC AvMC
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898
The Honorable Mark Meadows
Chief of Staff
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
The Honorable William Barr
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530
 Updated Hatch Act Guidance for Federal Employees After President Trump Becomes Candidate for Reelection, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (March 5, 2018), https://osc.gov/Documents/
Hatch%20Act/Advisory% 20Opinions/Federal/Current% 20Guidance%20on%20President% 20Trump%27s%20Reelection% 20Status.pdf
 5 U.S.C. § 7324
 Clarification of November 27, 2018 email, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (November 20, 2018), https://osc.gov/pages/
Letter from Chief of the Hatch Act Unit, Ana Galindo-Marrone, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (March 17, 2020), https://osc.gov/Documents/
Hatch%20Act/Advisory% 20Opinions/Federal/Agency% 20Hosting%20Lecture%20on% 20Politically-Charged% 20Topics.pdf
Department of Defense, Directive No. 1344.10 (Feb. 19, 2008), https://www.esd.whs.mil/
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.