GOP Pennsylvania Senate Contender Kathy Barnette’s Military Records Attract Skepticism

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    Questions about Kathy Barnette's military records were centerstage during the Pennsylvania Senate primary. Barnette was quoted on her website and Twitter account as saying that she had served for ten years as a reserve; however, reporters were unable to confirm her military records. 

    According to National Guard spokesman Kurt Rauschenberg, Kathy J. Barnett served in the Alabama Army National Guard from September 1993 through March 1998. Her primary occupational field of study was 63S Heavy-Wheeled Vehicle Mechanical Technician, and she earned a rank called Specialist. Her last unit in ARNG was the 778th Maintenance Company of the Alabama Army National Guard.

    On Wednesday afternoon, Barnette gave three military documents to journalists. The documents appear to indicate that she was a member of the Army National Guard as an administrator specialist in 1990. The documents suggest that she earned the E-4 rank two years later, on August 8, 1992, and was commissioned into the Alabama Army National Guard on September 24, 1993, in which she was in service for four years plus two month. The documents state that she was discharged with honor on December 5, 1997, and that her expiration term of service (ETS), also known as an agreement with the Alabama Army National Guard, officially expired on April 24, 1998.

    According to the records, prior to her stint in the Alabama Army National Guard, she was a veteran of three years with one month of reserve component work; however, they don't specify where. The records also indicate that she served three months of federal service in active status. The documents state that after she was released from the Alabama Army National Guard in 1998, she served seven years and seven months in all. The records also reveal that, following the disbandment of the Alabama Army National Guard, she was discharged honorably from the Army Reserve on June 27, 2000. This suggests that once she had left her position in the Alabama Army National Guard, she may have re-enlisted in the Army Reserve at some point and then resigned in 2000. 

    The Army did not at first include this service when it was asked for Barnette's records of service. It also said there might be additional service but hasn't yet replied to inquiries.

    But some well-known conservatives say there are a lot of questions that Barnette has to address. A former Army Ranger, Sean Parnell, who withdrew his bid to run in this year's Senate race, claimed there are still unanswered questions about her track record or lack of. Before he withdrew from the race, Parnell was supported by former President Donald Trump, who has now endorsed Barnette's rival, businessman David McCormick, in the race, although Trump still prefers Dr. Mehmet Oz.

    Parnell asked if she had the DD-214. He stated that the woman “a hundred percent” would have had it if she were on active duty in the Army at any point in time, including basic training as well as higher-level individual instruction. He also asked why she was only able to attain the rank of E-4 after she stated she had served for 10 years. “In the Reserves, promotions are slower. In the National Guard, promotions are slower. But 10 years? She should be at least an E-5.”

    The critic also asked about her time in the Criminal Investigation Division (CID), after she explained to the Federalist that she was in the CID. “You can be an E-4 that becomes CID in the reserves, in active Army units you have to be an E-5, but in order to do it in the Reserves, but you have to have an associate's degree and have to have gone to Officer's Candidate School, or on track to go to OSC.” He also stated that the documents she made public did not prove she was admitted to OSC in any way. “What's that about? There should be a record of that.”

    Parnell concluded, “The onus is on her to prove this stuff.” He added that reporters have been asking questions for months but haven't received any answers. “Would you rather talk about this stuff before the primary, or have the Democrats ask it all in the general?”

    Kurt Schlicter, a retired Army colonel, said there were questions lingering. He noted that the information released included only the time she spent in reserve and asked if Barnette had a DD214, claiming it was possible to “put this whole DD-214 thing to bed for [Barnette] in about two minutes of talking to her…. But it doesn't look like she wants to talk to anybody. I'm here if they want to reach out,” his tweet reads. “And if there's not a problem, I'll be happy to say so.”

    A Washington Examiner’s opinion piece also stated that when she was asked about her military experience, her campaign manager responded, “Kathy noted basic training was Fort Dix, Army Reserves.” Salena Zito wrote, “All candidates should face scrutiny and pointed questions about their biographies, their positions, their life experiences, and their work experiences. Barnette, to date, has not faced them. Now that she is surging, her team is trying to run out the clock.”

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