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US soldier at Paul rally could face legal trouble

US soldier at Paul rally could face legal trouble

A U.S. Army reservist who took the stage at an event for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and expressed his support could face legal troubles, the military says.
Cpl. Jesse Thorsen, 28, stood at a podium at the Paul rally in Iowa on Tuesday night wearing his military fatigues and said meeting the Texas congressman was like "meeting a rock star."
"His foreign policy is by far, hands down better than any other candidate's out there," Thorsen told the cheering crowd.
The libertarian Paul, who finished third in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, has said he would bring all or nearly all troops home from Afghanistan and other foreign posts if he is elected. The view is part of his largely isolationist stance on foreign policy, which sets him apart from the Republican mainstream.
Army Reserve spokeswoman Maj. Angel Wallace said participating in a partisan political event in uniform is a violation of Defense Department rules, and the military is reviewing whether Thorsen could face legal ramifications. Soldiers are permitted to vote, participate in some political activities and express opinions about candidates as long as they are not in uniform and speaking in an official capacity, she said.
She said Thorsen was not on active duty at the time of Tuesday's rally, but it was not immediately clear if that would have any bearing on the case.
Thorsen "stands alone in his opinions regarding his political affiliation and beliefs, and his statements and beliefs in no way reflect that of the Army Reserve," Wallace said in a statement.
A telephone number for Thorsen could not immediately be found.
At Tuesday's rally, Paul called Thorsen to join him on stage.
Drew Ivers, a spokesman for Paul's Iowa campaign, said Thorsen's appearance at the rally was not planned by the campaign.
In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Thorsen said he had served in the military for the past decade.
"I'm really excited about a lot of his ideas, especially when it comes to bringing the soldiers home," he told CNN. "I've been serving for 10 years now and all 10 years of those have been during wartime. I would like to see a little peacetime Army."
It was unclear if that service was continuous, and it appears to be punctuated by at least one criminal case.
According to the military, Thorsen deployed once to Afghanistan in 2009 after first joining the Florida National Guard in July 2001 and the Army Reserve in 2009. The military said he is with an engineer company out of Iowa.
Court records show that Thorsen was arrested in Florida in December 2004 for three felonies: burglary, theft of a firearm and possession of burglary tools.
He pleaded guilty to all three charges the following July but adjudication was withheld, meaning he would have no record.
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Associated Press writers Mitch Stacy in Tampa, Florida, and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-02-27 06:53 GMT+08:00