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Sailor gets no punishment for anti-Romney post

Nov. 9, 2012 - 10:01AM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 9, 2012 - 10:01AM  |  
A sailor who posted a photo criticizing criticizing presidential candidate Mitt Romney was not punished.
A sailor who posted a photo criticizing criticizing presidential candidate Mitt Romney was not punished. (Tumblr)
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The sailor who posted an anti-Mitt Romney message online while wearing his uniform received no formal punishment but was counseled on his actions, a Navy official confirmed.

In the lead-up to the presidential election, a sailor identifying himself as "Petty Officer Millen" posted on his blog a message criticizing the Republican nominee.

"I know you don't care about service members; you only want to start more wars and balloon the debt," the sailor said in his message, written on a dry erase board and photographed. "You don't know a damn thing about economics … You are just a hateful and narrow-minded bigot. You are not presidential material."

The sailor's face was obstructed by the board, but he was later identified as Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Christopher Millen, based at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Charleston, S.C.

The sailor's photos http://militarytimes.com/blogs/scoopdeck/2012/09/24/sailor-calls-romney-a-narrow-minded-bigot/">went viral in September, and the Charleston command opened an investigation.

"The investigation is complete and has been reviewed by the appropriate legal representatives," the Navy said in a statement Thursday. "Details on the investigation and the resulting disciplinary actions are not releasable for privacy reasons."

It looked like the sailor could have run afoul of Defense Department Directive 1344.10, which dictates which political activities service members can participate in. While it doesn't specifically discuss social media use, it prohibits members from using their official authority to solicit votes or publishing letters that solicit votes for or against a partisan candidate.

Military law experts told Navy Times in September that nonjudicial punishment was possible.

But, a Navy official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the sailor did not receive an NJP.

Instead, he received counseling, since he did not fully understand the rules about expressing political opinions, the source said. He was very apologetic when he realized he had done something wrong, the official said, and immediately took down the post on his Tumblr blog.

Before it was taken down, the post was either shared or liked 61,000 times.

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