Indiana GOP touts candidate’s brief Army service in ads

Indiana GOP touts candidate’s brief Army service in ads

Updated: 5 months, 2 days, 7 hours, 15 minutes, 56 seconds ago

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new television ad introduces the Republican seeking Indiana’s top elections office as “U.S. Army veteran Diego Morales,” while military records show he served less than four months of active service.

A commercial that began airing this week and another that highlights Morales as an Army veteran are being paid for by the state Republican Party as it makes a push ahead of the Nov. 8 election to keep GOP control of the secretary of state’s office despite criticism of Morales as a 2020 “election denier” and for twice being ousted from low-level jobs in that office.

Morales, a former Indiana governor’s office aide under Mike Pence, has sidestepped addressing questions about those issues and whether he has overemphasized his military service during his campaign against Democratic candidate Destiny Wells for the office that oversees statewide policies for elections.


The ads featuring Morales, one of which also includes the Republican candidates for state treasurer and auditor, are part of a TV and digital campaign this month for which the state Republican Party is paying at least $350,000, according to state campaign spending reports.

His campaign’s social media pages also feature photos of Morales in a camouflage uniform and videos highlighting his service as an Army infantryman.

Military records released by the Morales campaign, however, show he underwent about 3-1/2 months of Army infantry training in 2007 and then transferred to the Indiana National Guard. The records show Morales left the National Guard in 2013 without advancing beyond his initial rank of specialist or undergoing additional military education.

Morales, 43, who immigrated from Guatemala with his parents and sisters as a teenager, said in a statement Friday that “Criticism of my military service by both the media and Democrats will not dissuade me from telling my story.”

“I signed up for the military before I was even a U.S. citizen and proudly served the country I love,” Morales said. “Why wouldn’t I highlight this important part of my life in a T.V. ad describing who I am.”

A state Republican Party spokesman didn’t reply to a request for comment.

Morales declined in a recent interview to discuss details of his military service, including why he never sought promotion or wasn’t activated when his National Guard unit served a deployment to Iraq in 2008. He referred those questions to the military, but an Indiana National Guard spokesman, however, said military regulations prohibited the release of such information.


A Wells campaign spokeswoman declined to comment Friday, but state Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson called Morales “simply unfit to hold public office.”

“Diego Morales has shown Hoosiers that he has no morals, and he’ll do and say anything to win an election — including misleading voters about his background,” Anderson said.

Wells, a 38-year-old lawyer, has released records of her Army service since 2004, including her promotion to her current Army Reserve rank of lieutenant colonel, time as an intelligence officer and a year-old active-duty deployment to Afghanistan in 2016-2017.


The Republican TV spending in the secretary of state’s race comes as the Indiana GOP holds a sizeable fundraising advantage over Democrats. That enables Republicans to further boost Morales, who state campaign reports show had raised about $800,000 for his campaign through the end of September, compared with about $450,000 for Wells.

Morales has not mentioned Wells in his TV campaign, while an ad from Wells highlights that Morales left low-level secretary of state office jobs in 2009 and 2011 after being written up for poor job performance and also reference her military career and overseas deployment.