Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, posing in a Confederate military uniform in a 2013-2014 faculty photo at the Army War College, a photo obtained by Reuters shows.
Teachers at the school, where Mastriano worked at the time, were given the choice of dressing as historical figures, people familiar with the photo told Reuters. While a few others appear in disguise, Mastriano is the only one in the photo wearing a Confederate uniform, which many associate with hatred and the legacy of slavery in the South.
CNN has reached out to Mastriano’s campaign for comment.
Reuters reported on Friday that the photo was released by the Army War College after a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Army War College removed the photo from its faculty group photo wall after Reuters asked for comment, the outlet reported. “The faculty photo didn’t catch the team’s attention; the photo has since been removed as it does not uphold AWC values,” the college said in a statement to Reuters.
The Confederate flag, its symbols, and statues commemorating Confederate leaders have long divided the country. Critics say the symbols represent the war to maintain slavery, while supporters call them signs of Southern pride and heritage. The symbols have been used by white supremacists and, in recent years, the Department of Defense has taken steps to prohibit Confederate symbols.
Mastriano’s opponent in the gubernatorial contest, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, tweeted On Friday, “Doug Mastriano wore the uniform of the traitors who fought to defend slavery on the official grounds of the US Army War College.”
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“The College condemned him, saying it ‘doesn’t reflect our values.’ It’s deeply offensive and proves who he is, once again. He’s unfit to be governor,” Shapiro added.
Jenna Ellis, Mastriano’s senior legal counsel, defended the photo of Mastriano in Confederate garb in a Tweeter Friday, writing, “Media MELT DOWN Mastriano apparently once posed as a Civil War historical figure for a photo. And? He has a doctorate in HISTORY. The left wants to erase history. @dougmastriano wants us to learn from this. I invite @Reuters to do a tour of Gettysburg with Doug. You will learn a lot!
Mastriano served in the military for 30 years. According to his state senate biography, he earned a doctorate in history, taught at the Army War College, and published a book about a famous World War I army soldier, Alvin York. After retiring from the military in 2017, Mastriano launched a campaign for Congress in 2018, finishing fourth out of eight Republican primary candidates for an open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The following year, Mastriano won a special election for his state senate seat in the southern Pennsylvania campaign.
Pennsylvania’s 33rd District, where Mastriano serves as a state senator, includes Gettysburg, where the Battle of Gettysburg – the bloodiest battle of the Civil War – took place.
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A victory for the backed by Donald Trump Mastriano in November would give someone who tried to subvert the will of voters in 2020 power over the electoral machine in one of the nation’s most important battlegrounds in the 2024 presidential race. In Pennsylvania, the Governor appoints the Secretary of State – the person responsible for running Commonwealth elections and signing its voters.
Shapiro, who was not opposed to the Democratic primary, has defended Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election outcome and is emphasizing voting and abortion rights in his campaign.