IN THE NEWS: “Disrespecting ‘the sacrifices of our soldiers,’” Congressman Rokita seems to violate VA rules in first ad

INDIANAPOLIS – Congressman Rokita’s first TV ad brought on immediate controversy when he used footage of a military cemetery for political purposes despite VA rules forbidding such use. Congressman Rokita’s ad would seem to violate a VA policy that forbids the use of footage from military cemeteries for “political or partisan activities of any nature.” Congressman Rokita’s campaign denied breaking any rules, but a VA spokesman reiterated to the Indy Star the policy applies to stock footage as well.

Just this cycle, a Republican Senate candidate who used stock footage of military cemeteries in a campaign ad quickly pulled the ad and swapped out the visuals; however, despite claiming he’s against “disrespecting ‘the sacrifices of our soldiers,’” Congressman Rokita has shown no sign of changing his own ad.

From the Indy StarRokita Senate campaign ad uses military cemetery footage despite VA rules against partisan use

Rep. Todd Rokita packed plenty of red meat into his first Senate campaign ad.

But he appears to have improperly included footage of a military cemetery…

The problem with showing rows of headstones as an announcer accuses “liberal elites” of disrespecting “the sacrifices of our soldiers” is that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not allow campaign ads to be filmed in national cemeteries.

“To maintain the sanctity and decorum of VA National Cemeteries as national shrines, our filming policy states that filming may not be used for the expression of partisan or political viewpoints,” said VA spokesman James Hutton.

Rokita campaign spokesman Nathan Brand said the ad “does not violate any rules” because the campaign purchased stock footage, rather than shooting the images themselves.

Rokita is not the first candidate to use national cemetery footage in a campaign ad.

A Senate candidate in Wisconsin changed an ad last year after being asked about footage that appeared to show a veterans cemetery.

And congressional candidates in North DakotaTennessee and Arizona have filmed veterans cemeteries without permission in past years.