Politico’s profile of Indiana GOP congressional candidate Jennifer-Ruth Green began as so many lazy profile pieces do: with an overly detailed anecdote from the politician’s interview.
“Three thousand feet above Indiana’s 1st Congressional District, Jennifer-Ruth Green guided the yoke of a 1979 Piper Warrior through a cloud-etched sky, a steely blue Lake Michigan sunning on the horizon,” Adam Wren’s Friday piece began.
“’I feel more peaceful, you know? I feel more calm,’ she said, as she banked the plane east, making a big circle over the airport. She wore a black and green Jennifer-Ruth Green for Congress polo, a jean skirt, and black and white Chuck Taylor All-Star low tops. She was unwinding from a long day on the campaign trail, with no destination in particular — a rare moment for a hard-charging candidate.”
Yawn. You’ve read this piece before — a thousand different times about a thousand different candidates: “J. Lawton Yardley III was putting on his polo boots and ready to mount his steed, a dappled horse named Chukkers. It’s a familiar scene for members of the billionaire Yardley family, but with an unfamiliar twist: Yardley III is running as a ‘Bernie bro’ who wants to tax his family ‘back to the Stone Age.'”
In this case, the twist is that Green is a black conservative who could take a seat “that hasn’t voted for a Republican in 92 years.” And then, halfway through the piece, Wren decided to throw in the fact Green was sexually assaulted while she was in the Air Force — something that was somehow used to cast doubt upon her military record and that the candidate says was unlawfully obtained by Politico.
Not quite a yawn anymore, now, is it?
Wren, for his part, said the records “were obtained by a public records request and provided to Politico by a person outside the Mrvan campaign.”
Green said she asked the publication to shy away from publishing the details of the incident, in which “an Iraqi serviceman sexually assaulted her by grabbing her breast and exposing himself” when “she and a small group of officers visited the national training center.”
“The reality of it is — like I said at one point in my life to my assailant, ‘No. Please stop. Don’t.’ — and he did what he wanted to do,” she told Fox.
“This is the exact same situation all over again, all because there was a man who wanted some sort of gratification,” she added.
“Congressman Frank Mrvan gets his gratification of trying to think he’s smearing my name. Adam Wren gets his gratification of thinking he’s going to get a good smear story out of it. And all it does is essentially reopen wounds for victims.”
The relevance of the military records to the piece, whatever the case, is highly suspect.
Wren noted that “Green attended the United States Air Force Academy, graduating in 2005 as one of just 15 Black female cadets in a class of 919,” although she didn’t pass flight training and joined the special investigations unit.
Here’s the apparent relevance: “Green’s mostly stellar military record took an unexpected hit in early 2010, according to military records. In an evaluation of her performance spanning from March 15, 2009 to Dec. 15, 2009, she received a ‘does not meet standards’ rating in leadership skills, professional qualities and judgment and decisions,” Wren wrote.
“The evaluation centered on ‘two instances of lacking judgment while deployed; handling your weapon and wandering away while at a [forward operating base].’”
“In the first case, she was given a letter of counseling for loading her weapon inside a military facility,” the report continued. “The second more serious incident occurred in September, according to her military records, when she and a small group of officers visited the national training center. She left the group to climb into a cramped guard tower where Green says an Iraqi serviceman sexually assaulted her by grabbing her breast and exposing himself.”
Her higher-ups, Green said, pressured her not to report the incident.
Because of the poor evaluation, Wren wrote, she was denied the ability to rise in rank and was removed from active duty during a 2012 force reduction. He noted she was appealing the evaluation.
“I’m a survivor of sexual trauma in the military, and I am being forced to discuss it publicly for the first time because Congressman Mrvan or his supporters obtained — either illegally or by egregious error — military records describing my sexual assault, as well as performance reviews, and peddled those records to the media with the intent smear me and my military career,” she said in a statement to Politico.
“The performance review being pushed to discredit my leadership is false.”
“After reporting my assault against the advice of officials in my command, my career was intentionally derailed. I appealed the findings with the military and the issue is settled. I have unquestionably progressed as a military member, promoting to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel [in the Indiana Air National Guard] and successfully completed a command tour,” she added.
Speaking to Fox News, she also noted that the Politico writer didn’t want to go into too much detail about her assault, instead merely using it to cast doubt upon her military performance record.
Wren, she said, took her “experience and diminished it to a place where he can just say a clinical report of exactly what happened.”
“I’m surprised because Adam Wren spent time in this article focusing on every single detail down to the skirt I was wearing, down to the color of the skirt I was wearing, down to every single knob I touched, all of those things, but yet he writes clinically about one of the worst days of my life,” Green said.
“He has no idea the concept of being forced to be in a four by four, round circular area, 30 feet in the ground in a tower where you only have windows and a 30-foot drop on the other side, 30-foot drop to escape somebody who was blocking your path [with] somebody who has a clear intent with a weapon in hand, who is focused on trying to take advantage of you, and you’re able to escape that with minimal physical harm. And he wants to reduce that to 50 characters.”
The candidate has also written a letter to the Air Force Inspector General, the Department of Defense and U.S. attorneys asking for a criminal investigation into how the records were disclosed to Politico.
“The fact that my file has been leaked in the course of my campaign for United States Congress leads me to believe that it was politically motivated,” she wrote.
It’s not a mystery that Politico leans left, of course. That’s reason enough for any Republican to be wary of subjecting themselves to a profile piece by the outlet.
However, one wonders how Wren thought his piece would profit by casting doubt upon Green’s military service because she was sexually assaulted. The mere mention of a candidate’s heretofore undisclosed sexual trauma in a piece against her wishes, particularly when it’s irrelevant, is morally questionable enough when the tone is neutral. When it’s used to attack her service to the country, however, it’s reprehensible.
Sure, tiresome, hackneyed candidate profiles are bad enough, but at least they’re just boring. In this case, one only wishes it had stayed boring.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.