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Uniformed Paul Fan Raises Eyebrows

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An Army corporal with tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt may have been in violation of a Defense Department directive prohibiting active duty service members from endorsing political candidates while in uniform -- the Pentagon's version of the Hatch Act, according to the Huffington Post.

Jesse Thorsen, a native of West Des Moines, Iowa, according to media reports, has been a steady advocate of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Thorsen appeared on TV Tuesday in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash. Later, Paul invited Thorsen on stage when speaking after his third place finish in the caucus.

"It's like meeting a rock star," Thorsen said of Paul. He called Paul's foreign policy "by far, hands down, better than any of the candidates out there and I'm sure you all know that."

The Huffington Post points to DOD directive 1344.10 (4.1.1.9), which says an active duty may only attend political events when not in uniform.

Despite ongoing efforts to reform the Hatch Act, no such efforts to liberalize the Defense Department's parallel directive currently exist, said Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor and former chief White House ethics lawyer.

"Doing that in uniform is a really big no no," Painter told Government Executive.

Twitter reaction to Thorsen's endorsement ranged from outrage ("you embarrassed your service") to cautionary ("You're about to be Ron Paul's 'Joe the Plumber.' The media is going to eat you alive").

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