Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 9, 2020
MADISON — In his latest campaign ad, 1st Congressional District candidate Roger Polack touts his war record.
A real U.S. Army veteran who lost both of his legs in a bomb explosion in Afghanistan says Polack’s claim fits “a lawyer’s definition of the truth.”
The first part of the Democrat’s ad attacks his opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Janesville) for taking over a half million dollars in political action committee money. Polack, the ad claims, would never do such a thing. Further, the campaign message, declares, Polack “knows something about real service.”
“He served in the Bush and Obama administrations, deployed to Afghanistan to take on the Taliban,” the ad notes. There’s even a photo of the Democrat dressed in camouflage and standing next to actual soldiers.
The attorney from Caledonia (and Washington, D.C., according to his most recent tax returns) claims he was in the thick of it in war-torn Afghanistan. His campaign website makes it sound like he single-handedly took on the toughest terrorists the Taliban could dish out.
“…(H)e worked to shut down Al-Qaida affiliated terrorist groups’ funding in Asia, to fight corruption in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s financing pipeline, to ensure that foreign investments in the U.S—in particular, those from China—did not endanger our national security, and to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” Polack’s campaign asserts.
Maybe. But his weapon was a calculator and laptop, not a M4 carbine.
Jason Church, who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and was badly injured in an IED blast, knocked Polack for his “egregious” misleading claims.
“While this might fit a lawyer’s definition of truth, Mr. Polack obscures the fact that he was a civilian working for the federal government,” Church, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully last spring in the 7th Congressional District election, wrote in a column.
“Being a civilian working for the federal government and wearing a uniform of the armed services are two—very different—things,” Church added.
Military members subject themselves to a different “and harsher legal standard,” the veteran said. They must follow orders, whether that takes them across the state or to the most dangerous corners of the world.
“Military personnel also conduct offensive operations, which puts them in clear & present danger. I myself lost both legs to an IED explosion on an offensive operation,” Church wrote.
Polack’s campaign creates an “illusion” that he was under the same kind of stress and harm as service members. Church wrote. He wasn’t.
“I challenge Mr. Polack to correct this misrepresentation. The people of the First Congressional District deserve better than someone feigning military service,” the veteran wrote.
Polack’s campaign did not return a call seeking comment.