House candidate J.R. Majewski is having some trouble getting his military record straight. The Trump-backed veteran in Ohio’s Ninth District has said on multiple occasions that he served “in the desert” of Afghanistan after 9/11, claiming in campaign ads that he was a “combat veteran” and that he once went 40 days without a shower because his deployment did not have running water. But the Associated Press found last week that Majewski was never deployed to Afghanistan — the closest he came was thousands of miles away at a base in Qatar, where he helped load and unload planes.
Majewski, a Stop the Steal attendee who first came to prominence in 2020 after painting a giant Trump flag on his lawn, says that he actually was in Afghanistan on classified visits — which the Air Force has no way of publicly confirming. While experts on veterans exaggerating their service say that the go-to crutch for stolen valor types caught in the act is to allege their record is “classified,” Majewski has run into another problem. When asked last week by the AP why his service records showed that he was not allowed to reenlist in the Air Force and exited just a rank above where he started, his campaign claimed he was “in a fight in the dormitory with another servicemember” that “knocked his rank down.” The campaign claims he later gained his rank back.
But records obtained by the AP showed that the real reason for Majewski’s loss of rank and eventual exit from the Air Force was his September 8, 2001, demotion for drunk driving while stationed at a base in Okinawa. He was demoted to E-2 — the rank above where he entered the Air Force — and remained at that level for the rest of his service. “When you decided to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after indulging in intoxicating liquor you brought discredit upon yourself, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, and the Air Force,” the disciplinary records state, referring to Majewski’s unit.
Lying about one’s military record is by no means a disqualifying act in politics, as politicans in both parties over history have shown. But as the National Republican Congressional Committee focuses on tight elections to flip as many House seats as possible in November, the red flags in Majewski’s past are enough to hurt his campaign: Last week, they canceled close to $1 million in TV ad buys in the district held by Democrat Marcy Kaptur since 1983. After the drunk-driving demotion was made public, Majewski acknowledged the incident on Twitter: “Since I’m not Paul Pelosi, it led to a penalty. I’m not proud of it. I learned from it.”