Trump-backed Pennsylvania candidate Doug Mastriano pictured in Confederate military uniform
Doug Mastriano was pictured in a Confederate uniform in a 2013-2014 professor photo for the Army War College
Donald Trump-backed Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano posed in a Confederate uniform for a photo as a professor at the Army War College, a newly revealed photo – taken three years before he retired from the US Army in 2017.
The previously unseen photo, released by the War College to Reuters after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, showed Mastriano in a 2013-2014 portrait for the Department of Military Strategy, Planning and Operations, where he was working.
At the time, teachers had the option of dressing up as historical figures, people familiar with the photo said. At least 15 of the 21 teachers in the photo chose to appear in street clothes.
Although one man is wearing a trench coat and sunglasses and another is wearing an aviator helmet, Mastriano is the only one wearing a Confederate uniform.
It comes less than a week before the former Republican president is scheduled to appear in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Mastriano’s behalf.
Trump announced his rally on the heels of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ visit to the state, also to campaign for his midterm Republican candidates.
Mastriano did not immediately respond to email and phone requests for comment about the photo. A Reuters reporter attended a Mastriano event on Wednesday to seek comment, but the candidate did not make himself available for questions.
Displays of Confederate symbols can be seen as insensitive to those who view them as painful reminders of racial oppression and the Civil War that saw 11 rebel Confederate states fight to keep black people enslaved.
The U.S. military has de facto banned display of the Confederate flag and sought to remove segregationist symbols from bases and academic institutions following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, a black man whose killing by a white police officer in Minneapolis sparked protests around the world. .
After Reuters made its official request for the photo, it was removed from the wall of the War College where it hung alongside other annual portraits of faculty groups.
The Army War College (AWC), a leading military higher education institution in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, told Reuters a team reviewed all art, text and other images displayed at Carlisle Barracks in 2020, but had missed the photo of the faculty.
“The faculty photo didn’t catch the team’s attention; the photo has since been removed as it does not uphold AWC values,’ the college said in a statement.
Confederate symbols and dress have been adopted by white supremacists in the United States, and monuments and flags honoring the Confederacy have been removed from many public spaces in recent years.
Mastriano (far left) was among the few who appeared to opt for a suit over their usual attire
This isn’t the first time Mastriano has been pictured in a Civil War uniform, either.
A 2015 post on the gubernatorial candidate’s Facebook page features him and his son posing in Union Army uniforms. His wife, also in the photo, is dressed in women’s clothing of the time.
‘Our Christmas Picture – Honoring the American Civil War 1861-1865. Photo taken in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania,” reads the photo caption.
Pennsylvania plays an outsized role in US politics as a so-called swing state in presidential elections, and Republican Mastriano, who has embraced Trump’s stolen campaign lies, is trailing his Democratic opponent in the race for governor ahead of the ballot of November.
It’s unclear how the recent photo might be seen in Pennsylvania, which played a critical role in the Civil War.
More than 33,000 Pennsylvania soldiers died fighting for the Union, and the state was the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, the conflict’s bloodiest battle, which ended in a Union victory and inspired President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
The Mastriano District, Pennsylvania’s 33rd, includes Gettysburg.
Donald Trump campaigns for Mastriano in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania next week
Many Americans continue to participate in Civil War battle reenactments, wearing uniforms from both sides in an effort to preserve United States history.
The photo is not the first time Mastriano has sparked controversy in his quest to become governor.
Earlier this year, it surfaced that he was among the crowd of Trump supporters who were on the grounds of the US Capitol when the building was robbed on Jan. 6.
Mastriano is not charged with setting foot inside the Capitol, and he has not been charged with any crime.
Mastriano’s endorsement of Trump has rattled Republican Senate leaders, who have expressed broader concerns about the eligibility of some right-wing fringe candidates in November’s midterm elections.
A recent poll shows Mastriano trailing his Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, by double digits.
The Franklin & Marshall College survey shows Shapiro has 44% support, compared to 33% for the Trump-backed Republican.