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Rep. Hunter Ordered To Remove Marine Logo From Islamophobic Mailers

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The U.S. Marine Corps is demanding Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, remove a Marine logo from Islamophobic flyers targeting his opponent and two other members of Congress.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Mid Day additions. Jade Heineman has today's top story. The U S Marine Corps is demanding San Diego Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter remove a Marine logo from Islamophobic campaign flyers targeting his opponent and two other members of Congress. The two others were also recently targeted by the president with a racist tweet. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh has been following this development and joins us with more. Steve, welcome. Hi Jade. At the center of this story is a campaign mailer that features his likely 2020 democratic opponent and two Democratic Congress women. Can you describe the mailer for us?

Speaker 2: 00:37 Well, I can and uh, looking at what the, uh, the marine sent out, it looks like they are targeting this particular ad that shows the marine logo and the a in the emblem. But uh, it is in a flyer that among the things it says on there, it hasn't like what looks like handwritten, uh, a message saying these three radical Democrats, uh, want you to forget family terrorist ties. But as a marine, I'll never forget the 1983 Beirut bombings and the 1972 Olympic murders. That's a reference to a claim that a hunter keeps making that a, a mark campaign is our, the Democrat who ran against him less last time and it's still running against him this time. His grandfather was somehow tied to the Munich bombings in 1972. It's a been widely disputed and there's very little evidence to support that, but hunter keeps making that charge. And the s and then we had the two congress women on here, a Atlanta, Ilan, Omar, Democrat of Minnesota and received to leave a Democrat of a Michigan. Both of them were also mentioned on this. And I have to point out that, uh, mentions with, to leave that, uh, she's anti-Israel, but the mailer misspells the word Israel.

Speaker 1: 01:50 Right. And, and we should also mention that both congresswoman Omar and to leave are both Muslim. And do we know how they found out about the mailer or what drew them Marines to this mailer?

Speaker 2: 02:01 Well, we, we do not know, and again, they're only saying so much about this, but we do know that this received a tremendous amount of publicity here and the rhetoric is incredibly inflammatory. Um, two of these congress women were also mentioned in, uh, in tweets by president Trump that, uh, let's put, you know, put a fine point on it. Racist tweets put out by president Trump. In fact, uh, Alan, Omar of Minnesota who is Somali born, um, president Trump brought that up at a rally and a bunch of people began chanting to send her back, send her back. So this is received a tremendous amount of uh, um, mostly very negative publicity.

Speaker 1: 02:39 What is the Marine Corps said about why hunters should have removed the logo?

Speaker 2: 02:43 Send a letter out saying that the a marine emblem, which is the a, the eagle, the anchor and a, the globe, this is not only just a registered trademark, but it is protected by federal statute and it is not allowed to be used without permission from Marine Corps. Same goes for the logo, for the logo, which is a no better friend, no worse enemy, which appears in the corner of the mailer.

Speaker 1: 03:08 Does the corps have rules for its use of official emblems and logos?

Speaker 2: 03:12 It does indeed. So what they're saying is that not only is this a registered trademark used in their recruiting campaigns, but also it is a protected by federal statute, so you are not allowed to use it.

Speaker 1: 03:24 Is it unusual for them to send cease and desist letters to members of Congress? Yep.

Speaker 2: 03:28 The marines have not really given me a lot of detail behind, uh, uh, confirming the fact that they have sent this letter to them. Uh, I do have a statement from captain Christopher Harrison with the spokesman from the Marine Corps thing, the Eagle Globe and anchor is a trademark and uh, that the seal and emblem shouldn't be used in conjunction with any political activities. If you delve down into the letter, they're very clear that they don't want to give the impression that they're endorsing a particular candidate or that they're endorsing a particular point of view, which of course would come into play, especially with these flyers which are obviously quite inflammatory.

Speaker 1: 04:05 How has hunter's campaign responding?

Speaker 2: 04:07 So Michael Harrison with the hunter campaign did send me a written response. It says in part that aid a, they will comply with what the Marine Corps is asking, but it goes on to say that it is personally disappointing to congressman hunter that he is now being told that he cannot use the his motto or image that thousands of marines like congressman hunter who went to war under this banner have used for tattoos, coins, tee shirts, hats, books, posters and multiple other items of personal sentiment. Uh, it is as much a part of them, it as it is the Marine Corps.

Speaker 1: 04:42 A hunter is under indictment for allegedly using campaign funds for personal expenses. What can you tell us about whether that's impacting his ability to raise money for his 2020 reelection bid?

Speaker 2: 04:53 Well, um, it looked like he had had, he was way behind in fundraising buddy. It looks like a, in his most recent filing for this quarter with the FEC that he's seen a surge in fundraising. He's got about $588,000 on hand. Now. A lot of that came in this last quarter over $375,000 with it. He is the leading fundraiser now amongst the several Republicans that are running for the nomination. And we have to point out that he's not running directly against campaign as you are right now. We haven't even had a primary, it's not even 2020 at this point, but uh, the only one person he lags at this point is um, uh, mark camp and a jar who has over $732,000 in the bank right now.

Speaker 1: 05:35 And I'm curious to know how has Amar campaign as jars campaign responded to all?

Speaker 2: 05:40 They did issue a statement, um, after I reached out to them, they basically said that this is one scandal after another for uh, for Dunkin Hunter and that the, the closer Dunkin hunter gets to his criminal trial, the more absurd his lies and racist attacks become. At this point it's pretty clear that congressman hunter

Speaker 1: 05:58 has lost all ability to tell the difference between right and wrong fact and fiction. And I should also mention that as for Dunkin Hunter, this is a pattern a given that he was under the same criticism during his last election. I've been speaking with military reporter Steve Walsh. Steve, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks you.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.