Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: National Guard clears Adam Kinzinger over Tony Evers comments
Wisconsin National Guard says Illinois congressman did not violate military code by criticizing Tony Evers
MADISON - U.S. Rep Adam Kinzinger of Illinois did not violate military rules when he criticized Gov. Tony Evers publicly and released information about troop movements, a Wisconsin National Guard spokesman said Wednesday.
Guard officials had been looking into whether comments made by Kinzinger, a Republican who serves in the Wisconsin Air National Guard, may have violated a state and federal law that bars officers from criticizing governors.
Capt. Joe Trovato said Wednesday the guard determined Kinzinger was "not speaking as a commissioned officer but as a U.S. congressman" when last month he called into question Evers' decision to pull troops away from the U.S. border with Mexico through tweets and an appearance on Fox News.
Trovato also said the troops' location was not classified information so "in our mind, there's no violation there."
Kinzinger's February criticism notified the public of Evers' decision to withdraw 112 National Guard soldiers and airmen from the border and came hours before Evers publicly released the order to pull back the troops.
In a Feb. 25 tweet, Kinzinger said "@GovEvers, your guardsmen saved many lives and protected our country on this mission. Did you go visit them on the border to see for yourself? Or did you make your decision based solely on politics?"
In issuing his order, Evers cited opposition to President Donald Trump's assertion that a national security crisis exists on the southern border.
"I cannot support keeping our brave service men and women away from their families without a clear need or purpose that would actively benefit the people of Wisconsin or our nation," Evers said at the time.
State and federal law as well as U.S. Department of Defense directives require punishment be leveled against "any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the president, the vice-president, members of congress, the secretary of defense, the secretary of a military department, the secretary of homeland security, or the governor or legislature of the state of Wisconsin."
But a spokeswoman for Kinzinger said in February the lieutenant colonel was off duty when he made his remarks about Evers.
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