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Ads Distort Gordon’s Military Service
TWN FACT CHECK

October 27, 2020 by Dan McCue

This is an installment of an ongoing series of political advertising fact checks during the 2020 campaign. If you would like to submit an advertisement for consideration, please email a link to [email protected].


A pair of advertisements, one funded by a super PAC dedicated to securing a GOP majority in the U.S. House, and the other, by the Republican Party’s Congressional campaign arm, claim a Democrat running for Rep. Peter King’s former seat is lying about her military service to gain support from voters.

The advertisements distort candidate Jackie Gordon’s military service record, leaving the viewer to believe that she left the service under a shadow.

Gordon, 55, is a former U.S. Army combat veteran and public school teacher, who also served as a Babylon Town councilwoman in New York. She is running against Republican Andrew Garbarino, an attorney and state assemblyman. He is also the son of the Islip Republican chairman.

Throughout the race to replace the Republican King, who decided to retire earlier this year after 14 terms in Congress, each candidate has touted their party’s signature issues.

For Gordon, that has meant emphasizing her support of the Affordable Care Act, while Garbarino has spoken extensively of his support of police, and law and order more generally.

Last week the Congressional Leadership Fund and Republican Congressional Campaign Committees unleashed a pair of political advertisements (viewable here and here), that call into question just how honorably Gordon served her country.

The advertisements are based on the reporting of The Daily Caller, which was identified as both partisan and a spreader or disinformation in a Harvard University study of the 2016 election.

The Daily Caller story is based on a portion of two U.S. Army reports compiled at Fort George G. Meade, Md., in December 2011, and at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan in May 2012. Both described issues that had arisen in Gordon’s battalion.

The publication does not say where it got the “unredacted Department of Defense documents” from nor does it explain why the documents that appear with the article are redacted or why several pages, here and there, are missing.

The ads take this approach to Gordon’s record a step further, pulling out the most inflammatory words and presenting them without context on the screen.

For instance, the ads claim Gordon “abandoned her battalion without permission” when a reading of the actual document goes on to say she not only sought and received permission, but that the Army knew she was using the time to campaign for the Town of Babylon council.

The NRCC ad, in particular, implies Gordon was relieved of command because she abandoned her post. This is not true.

The Congressional Leadership Fund focuses on phrases describing the “dysfunctional” and “toxic” environment surrounding her Battalion, while the ad implies these words were assigned to Gordon alone, they were in fact describing the deteriorating relationships among at least five individuals, and Gordon was just one.

In fact Gordon retired after 29 years in service, with an Honorable Discharge and the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, more than two years later.

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