Soldier who took stage at Ron Paul rally could face legal trouble
DES MOINES, Iowa — An Army reservist who took the stage at a political event for Ron Paul and expressed his support for the Republican presidential candidate could face legal troubles, the military said yesterday.
Cpl. Jesse Thorsen, 28, stood at a podium at the Paul rally in Iowa Jan. 3 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.
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 the Jan. 3 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 be found in time for this story.
At the Jan. 3 rally at Paul’s headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa, Paul called Thorsen to join him on stage. Thorsen then shook Paul’s hand before stepping to the podium.
Drew Ivers, a spokesman for Paul’s Iowa campaign, said Thorsen’s appearance at the rally was spontaneous and not planned by the campaign.
In a separate interview with CNN on Jan. 3, 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 peace time Army.”
Paul, who finished third in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, has said if he is elected, he would bring all or nearly all troops home from Afghanistan and other foreign posts.
While Thorsen billed himself as serving for 10 years, it was unclear if that service had been continuous, and it appears to be punctuated by at least one criminal case.
According to the military, Thorsen had 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 Des Moines, and his unit falls under the 416th Theater Engineer Command out of Darien, Ill.
Court records show that Thorsen was arrested in Lee County, Fla., in December 2004 for three felonies: burglary, theft of a firearm and possession of burglary tools. Details were not available late Thursday.
He pleaded guilty to all three charges the following July but adjudication was withheld, meaning he would have no record. He was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $660.50 He made regular payments through April 2006 totaling $630.50 but then stopped, the records show. In May 2006, he was ruled in violation of his probation and was arrested three weeks later in Tampa, spending three days in jail. In August 2006, he appeared before a judge in Lee County, who reinstated his probation. His probation ended in March 2007.
Wallace said the military was looking into the arrests. They were first reported by www.militarycorruption.com.