“This Vet Does Not Support Tammy Baldwin”

By James Wigderson for Media Trackers

Over Michael Marquette’s objections, supporters of Senator Tammy Baldwin’s are still going to include a photo of him in an ad of veterans supporting the senator’s re-election campaign, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Marquette, an attorney from Green Bay and a Republican, objected to the use of the photo in the television ad supporting the Democrat Baldwin.

“If I had volunteered for that mission, I would be fine with it,” Marquette said in an interview with Media Trackers on Wednesday. “But I didn’t. It was without my knowledge or approval or consent. That’s not how that game is supposed to be played.”

As a veteran who served in Panama, Bosnia and Iraq, Marquette said he understands why politicians want to make it look like they have the support of people like him.

“I’m cynical enough to know that every politician running for office wants to be perceived as being supported by veterans,” Marquette said. “But I do feel like I’m being used as a prop.”

The ad was produced by VoteVets, a Democratic-leaning organization that is trying to rehabilitate Baldwin’s image among veterans after her office’s failure to deal with the problems of the Tomah VA hospital after a whistleblower, Ryan Honl, brought the problems there to her office’s attention in 2015.

As the Green Bay Gazette reported in January 2016, Baldwin’s office had a copy of an inspector general’s report for months detailing the problems at the hospital regarding the overprescribing of opioids to veterans. Despite Honl’s pleas, Baldwin’s office sat on the report.

When the secret came out, Baldwin fired a staff member and hired Democratic fixer Marc Elias of the law firm Perkins Coie to try to contain the political fallout. Elias and Perkins Coie were behind the creation of the infamous Russian dossier that had a role in launching the investigation of President Donald Trump’s campaign.

In the ad, a friend of Marquette’s is holding up the photo showing her, Marquette, and two other soldiers. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that VoteVet is not going to pull the ad despite Marquette’s objections.

“Since this ad run is nearly complete, as much as we would like to do so, there is not enough time to get this ad down and re-cut it,” Jon Soltz, the chairman of VoteVets, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But we’ll promise that in the next ad, he won’t be at all identifiable, alongside the other veterans in the ad who do appreciate the work that Tammy has done.”

The promise of VoteVets to continue to use the photograph in their advertising but make Marquette supposedly unable to be identified didn’t sit well with the retired Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel.

“I guess they are going to like blur me out,” Marquette said. “Maybe they’ll take a post-it note and put it over my face. Who knows?”

Marquette had a suggestion for what the post-it note would say. “This vet does not support Tammy Baldwin.”

Marquette explained why he finds the use of the photo with him in it so annoying.

“I just generally don’t support her overall,” Marquette said. “I mean, she voted against the tax cut we just got. She’s voted for a lot of different policy issues that I just don’t support.”

Marquette also said the failure of Baldwin’s office to do anything about the problems of the Tomah VA hospital after they were made aware of them is also an issue.

“I think there’s a lot more to that than they want to acknowledge,” Marquette said. “Obviously, it’s something that they’re concerned about. Otherwise they wouldn’t be spending all those dollars on ads trying to cure that problem.”

Marquette said he was not upset with his friend for holding up the photo. “I don’t hold her responsible,” Marquette said. “It’s not a problem she created. It’s a problem that the people who created and ran the ad created. That’s their business. They’re supposed to know that.”