Political Ad Sparks New Controversy - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/11/04 - East Texas

Political Ad Sparks New Controversy

This week we've been examining a series of campaign ads. Those ads use military personnel to speak for and against an amendment voted on by Democrat Paul Sadler back in 1997. Sadler was a state representative at the time. The back and forth ads are quite negative, and one of them also apparently has an element  that violates military law. Major Max Shumake, a retired United States Army Reservist, appears in an ad for Paul Sadler. In the ad, he is wearing his uniform. That is a violation of U.S. military law. We spoke with The 90th Regional Readiness Command in Little Rock, Arkansas today, who says army regulation 670-1 states, wearing army uniforms is prohibited in connection with the furtherance of any political or commercial interests. The regulation applies to active and retired Army, and Army Reserve personnel, and that obviously includes Major Shumake. We caught up with Paul Sadler today on a campaign stop at Northeast Texas Community College.

"We've asked for an opinion, whether or not it is against the regulations," Sadler said. "I'm not certain that it is. Mr. Shumake is a retired veteran of the Vietnam War, is highly decorated with three Bronze Stars, two for valor. In my opinion, he can wear his uniform anywhere he wants to."

That's Sadler's opinion, but Shumake is clearly violating regulations, and Warren Byrd of the 90th Regional Readiness Command explains why.

"When you wear the uniform, you are representing the United States Army," Byrd said. "Doesn't matter if you're active army, reserved, or retired. It's not our job, really, or the soldiers job, when wearing the uniform, to endorse political candidates or make commercial endorsements of any kind."

In spite of our research, Sadler says he's not going to pull the ad until he's convinced it's against regulations. He also says the ad wouldn't be running in the first place if it hadn't been for the involvement of Texans for Lawsuit Reform. The third party group has been airing ads criticizing Sadler's 1997 vote on overseas military voting regulations.

Kevin Berns, reporting kberns@kltv.com

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