Republican veteran Jay Collins, running against U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, has heavily emphasized his military career as a Green Beret combat medic in his campaign.
Collins, who lost a leg in Afghanistan, uses numerous photos of himself in uniform and identifies himself as “Green Beret Jay Collins” on his campaign website and Facebook page.
But how they’re used could raise questions about whether the materials comply with Defense Department regulations.
Under those regulations, military retirees are allowed to use photos of themselves in uniform and information about their military careers in campaign material — but with restrictions.
A 2008 Department of Defense directive says such photos can be used as part of a package of general biographical material including other photos.
A photo of the candidate in uniform may not be “the primary graphic representation in campaign media,” and all material showing a uniform photo must include a disclaimer saying no endorsement by the military is implied.
Further, the candidate may not permit others to violate those restrictions.
Collins has a uniform photo of himself as the profile picture on his campaign Facebook page and the main display photo at the top of his campaign website.
A recent invitation to a Collins fundraiser, distributed by the Hillsborough County Republican Party, used only one photo, a campaign photo showing Collins in uniform in what appears to be a combat setting. It did not include the required disclaimer concerning endorsement by the military, but did include the legally required statement that it was “paid for by Jay Collins for Congress.”
Asked whether these materials could violate Defense Department regulations, a department spokesman referred to the regulations but didn’t respond to specific questions.
Collins campaign spokesman Chris Pack responded via email, “With everything we put out and our website, we have a non-military photo and we use the appropriate disclaimer. We can’t speak for the Hillsborough GOP.”
County GOP Chairman Jim Waurishuk, however, said via email, “The photo was put out by his campaign as a campaign flyer.”
Waurishuk argued that the campaign had not violated Defense Department regulations.
Contact William March at firstname.lastname@example.org.