Press Releases

DPO Veterans Caucus Chair Calls on Monique DeSpain, CD 4 GOP Candidate, To Stop Breaking the Rules and Obey Department of Air Force Regulations for Political Candidates

May 19, 2024

Last week, retired State Senator Tony Corcoran filed a formal complaint with the Air Force Inspector General (below) and the Federal Elections Commission against Monique DeSpain, Republican CD4 congressional candidate for repeatedly violating Air Force regulations and prominently displaying her rank as “Colonel” on campaign materials without listing her “retired” status as required by the rules.

Today Democratic Party of Oregon Veterans Caucus Chair, Cindy Smith, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant,  called on DeSpain to stop breaking the rules and obey Department of Air Force regulations for Air Force veterans who are political candidates:

“As members of the military and veterans, we have a solemn obligation to obey the rules and regulations set out by the Air Force and Department of Defense. This is especially true when it comes to political campaigns. Air Force regulations require the prominent disclosure of the “retired” status of a veteran when explicitly listing rank on campaign materials to prevent a false public impression that the veteran candidate is actively serving or falsely imply that the candidate has been endorsed by the military. That is why the Air Force sets out clear guidelines requiring veteran candidates to list their “retired” status when using rank on campaign materials.

“For DeSpain to prominently list her title as “Colonel” on multiple campaign materials and fail to prominently disclose that she is “retired” and no longer actively serving, shows DeSpain’s clear disregard for these important Air Force regulations.

“This violation is particularly troubling given that DeSpain claims her military experience and work as an Air Force attorney as key qualifications for her to serve in Congress.

“Serving in Congress and the military both require attention to detail as well as compliance with the laws and regulations that govern their service. It is clear that by not complying with Air Force regulations, DeSpain either thinks the rules don’t apply to her or she simply doesn’t care.

“DeSpain has one course of action and that is to follow the rules, immediately remove and destroy all campaign materials that violate Air Force regulations, and issue a public apology to our active, reserve, National Guard and retired members of the military, as well as the voters of Oregon’s 4th Congressional District.”

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Tony Corcoran <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, May 15, 2024 at 2:26 PM
Subject: Military Political Activities Compliance
To: <[email protected]>

To whom it may concern,

I am writing to submit an elections-related complaint about Colonel Monique DeSpain (Ret.) who is running for the Republican nomination in  Oregon’s 4th Congressional District. There are two parts to this complaint: one, she has failed to denote her military status as “retired” on nearly all of her campaign paraphernalia; and two, she has failed to include the required military disclaimer on campaign materials and advertisements. These include signs, billboards, literature, mailers, and digital assets.

Military Designation

According to the Department of the Air Force Instruction 51-508 paragraph 2.6.1, any non-active military running for office must qualify their retired status when using their rank or grade and Military Service affiliation. According to paragraph 2.6.2 of the same document, if there is a mention of their former title, position, etc., a prominent disclaimer must be included that states the military information does not imply endorsement by the DAF, etc.

2.6.1 Military members not on active duty who are nominees or candidates…may, in their campaign literature (including web sites, videos, television, and conventional print advertisements):

2.6.1.1. Use or mention…their military rank or grade and Military Service affiliation but must clearly indicate their retired…status.

2.6.1.2. Include or permit the inclusion of their current or former specific military duty, title, or position…when displayed with other non-military biographical details. Any such military information must be accompanied by a prominent and clearly displayed disclaimer that neither the military information nor photographs imply endorsement by the DoD or the DAF…”

Election Disclosure Requirement

The Code of Federal Regulations (11 CFR §110.11) provides specifications for all disclaimers stating they, “must be presented in a clear and conspicuous manner, to give the reader, observer, or listener adequate notice of the identity of the person or political committee that paid for and, where required, that authorized the communication. A disclaimer is not clear and conspicuous if it is difficult to read or hear, or if the placement is easily overlooked.” These requirements are widely known and any failure to abide by them raises the question of whether the failure to comply was intentional.

Her failure to comply with these election-related regulations dates back to  November 16, 2023, when she included her military rank on her Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) headers and biography the day she declared she was running for office. However, this flagrant disregard has persisted through the current date. A representative, but not necessarily exhaustive, list of materials that violate the regulations includes her campaign Facebook and X profiles online, her direct mail pieces, her campaign literature delivered at the doors of voters, as well as literature and barn signs used at visibility events, and barn signs and billboards throughout the district. Particular examples can be found at the intersections of Clearlake Rd and Green Hill Rd, Eugene, OR; and the intersection of Laura St and Route 126, Springfield, OR.

I respectfully request that you take appropriate action to ensure that Col. DeSpain (Ret.) does not continue to disregard these regulations. All the information and documents described above are attached.

Sincerely,

Anthony A. Corcoran

34475 Kizer Creek Road

Cottage Grove, Oregon 97424

———- End Forwarded message ———