Michael Cassidy, a Republican House candidate for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District and Navy Reserve pilot, said in a recent interview with Breitbart News he believes the Navy is grounding him over his conservative political statements, even though he made them in his civilian capacity and broke no rules.
Cassidy, a reservist instructor pilot and civilian test pilot at the Naval Air Station Meridian in Meridian, Mississippi, said that in late April he filmed a campaign video and took some photos at a nearby civilian air field that is often used by Navy pilots.
A few days after the video and photos were published, Cassidy said the naval base’s commander mistakenly thought they were taken on the naval base and was upset. Cassidy said he told him it was the civilian air field, not the naval base.
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However, he said the Navy then began investigating him to see if he was in violation of the Department of Defense directive about political activity as a reservist.
Several days later, he was grounded — or told he was not allowed to fly as a naval reservist instructor pilot or a civilian test pilot due to the investigation, he said. Cassidy said he spoke to a Judge Advocate General (JAG) for the Chief of Naval Air Training, and the JAG said there “wasn’t a clear violation.”
Cassidy said he expected the grounding to be lifted the next day, but was told the Navy was investigating two separate things — if he had asked any of the pilots or maintenance personnel to participate in his campaign video or photos, and if he had asked any of the student pilots for financial contributions for the campaign. He said he had not done either, and that investigation was concluded.
Cassidy said he then received a phone call and was told the Navy was investigating him for statements on his website that called for ending “all wokeism, Diversity/Inclusion/Equity indoctrination, and using race and sex as factors in promotion and job qualification.”
He said he was told if he were to fly with a female or minority student and they did poorly, then they could theoretically sue the Navy or complain to the Navy that they allowed him — “this avowed racist and sexist” — to train them and that was the reason they did poorly.
Cassidy said he argued that he should then be allowed to just fly by himself in his reservist and civilian role. “When we do the test flights, it’s just me in the plane,” but he said they rejected that idea.
He said they are also investigating him on whether he has a “general commitment to Navy equal opportunity principles,” and that he was allegedly told his statements were “detrimental to good order and discipline” because he is contradicting Navy policy.
“I said, ‘Well, if you’re saying that I can’t critique Navy policy, then you’re saying that anyone subject to the [Uniform Code Military Justice], which includes reservists and military retirees, then we can’t ever run as political candidates opposing any position of the government, which is absurd,” he said.
He added, “Everything that I’ve said, everything that I’ve done, I’ve done it in a civilian capacity — I haven’t done any of this in uniform, I haven’t pushed any of this on base, and I’ve adhered to the DOD policies of having disclaimers on my website, etc.”
Cassidy said he is not sure who in the Navy is driving the investigations against him or even how high up the chain of command the investigations are.
Breitbart News requested a comment from the office of the Navy’s Chief of Naval Air Training, but did not hear back before deadline.
Cassidy said his grounding is part of a larger targeting of conservatives in the military.
“It is remarkable. It is sad. Honestly, it’s sad. We had [an extremism] stand down, [the Navy] wanted us to redo the oaths of office, because obviously the people who don’t give the oath — they’re the ‘extremists.’ It’s just offensive. It’s truly offensive,” he said.
“It’s bureaucratic leftism, and that’s truly one of the reasons I’m running for office is because I truly cannot — I am so disgusted by what is happening to our military, that’s it’s gone away from focusing on how can we be as lethal as possible, to how can we check as many of these leftist values in the military, and how do we not offend people, and how do we accommodate everyone’s feelings.”
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