Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) wrote to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall on Tuesday and demanded names of those responsible for telling airmen they could not attend a rally featuring a speaker from the conservative Turning Point Action organization, Breitbart News can reveal.
In the missive to Kendall, Gaetz highlighted text messages sent to airmen at the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota warning them against going to the rally that said:
We just got word of an event going at the fairgrounds downtown, called Dakota Patriot Rally. Its guest speaker is from an alt-right organization called Turning Point Action. Please advise your folks that if they are going to be downtown this weekend, it’s good to be cautious, as the crowds this event may attract could be confrontational to military members. Additionally please remind them that participation with groups such as Turning Point Action could jeopardize their continued service in the US military.”
Gaetz wrote in his letter to Kendall:
I write to express grave concern regarding brazen partisan comments made by the command at Minot Air Force Base (AFB) in North Dakota.
You are obligated to intervene, as this series of actions demonstrates a clear misapplication of the Hatch Act, which states members on active duty should not engage in political activities while in uniform to avoid creating the appearance that their political activities imply official Department of Defense (DoD) sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a candidate, campaign or cause.
Furthermore, Gaetz noted the rally on November 17, 2023, took place after work hours, and not on federal property.
He observed that description of the event on its own website did not appear to be controversial, and it appeared exception was taken to the keynote speaker of the evening, Tyler Bowyer, chief operating officer of Turning Point Action, which Gaetz noted was a non-profit and one of the largest conservative grassroots organizations in the nation.
“Thus, the text messages and emails from command show a growing politicization at installations within the Department of the Air Force (DAF) favoring one political party or political view,” he said.
Gaetz demanded Kendall reveal who at Minot AFB or elsewhere approved or issued these messages to the base’s service members, what Air Force policies forbid participation or assembly in political causes while off duty, and why the message said attending the rally could “jeopardize a service member’s continued service in the U.S. military.”
He also asked what specific actions the Air Force would take to ensure that service members’ constitutional rights are not violated in the future.