Embattled Republican Rep. Duncan D. Hunter was issued a cease-and-desist letter from the Marine Corps for using its official emblem and slogan in a campaign mailer that targeted three Muslim officials.
The Marine Corps demanded that Hunter (R-Calif.) stop using its Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem and the motto “No better friend, no worse enemy” in campaign advertisements after criticism of the Islamophobic mailer peaked this week, according to NBC News.
The ad’s envelope included photographs of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who has become the focus of xenophobic outcry on the right, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Democrat of Palestinian and Mexican descent who is challenging Hunter for his seat — calling them “radical Democrats” and accusing them of anti-Semitism and “family-terrorist ties.” The mailer also misspelled Israel.
Omar and Tlaib are the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.
Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a Marine Corps spokesman, declined to provide a copy of the letter that the military sent to Hunter but said it was addressing the issue.
“The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor and No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy phrase are trademarks of the Marine Corps protected by Federal law,” Butterfield said in a statement, noting the portion of federal law that states that the symbols should not be used for political activities.
Hunter staffer Michael Harrison said that the campaign was taking immediate steps to ensure the Marine Corps demands were met.
“It is personally disappointing to Congressman Hunter that he is now being told that he cannot use this motto or image that thousands of Marines like Congressman Hunter, who went to war under this banner, have used for tattoos, coins, t-shirts, hats, books, posters and multiple other items of personal sentiment,” he said in a statement.
Harrison earlier this week denied that the ad was Islamophobic. He said Hunter has supported Muslim Americans for political office, met with Muslim leaders and served with Muslims while in the military.
Hunter has long used smears about terrorism and other misleading attacks against Campa-Najjar, who ran against him in 2018 for the seat in the district outside San Diego.
The congressman, an early ally of President Trump, has faced other political wildfires over the past year as well. In August, he was indicted on federal corruption-related charges that alleged that he and his wife used $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for family vacations and other personal expenses.
In June, Hunter’s wife, Margaret, pleaded guilty to one charge in the indictment in an agreement with prosecutors that included a promise to “tell everything.” Weeks later, federal prosecutors said in a court filing that Hunter had used campaign funds to facilitate extramarital affairs.
The trial is scheduled to begin later this year.
In recent months, Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran, turned heads after he said that he took pictures with a corpse while serving overseas, a potential violation of the Defense Department’s rules around warfare. He seemed to double down weeks later, saying that his artillery unit killed “probably hundreds of civilians,” including women and children, during the siege on the Iraqi city of Fallujah.