Josh Shapiro blasted Mastriano for choosing to wear a uniform that is embraced by white supremacists, and symbolic of the Confederate Army’s fight to keep Black people enslaved.
Three years before he retired from the US Army in 2017, Pennsylvania’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, posed in a Confederate uniform for a faculty photo at the Army War College in Carlisle.
Reuters obtained a copy of the photo from the college and first reported on it Friday night.
According to Retuers, faculty had been given the option of dressing as a historical figure for the photo from the 2013-2014 academic year. At least 15 of the 21 faculty in the photo wore street clothes. Mastriano, who worked in the school’s Department of Military Strategy, Plans, and Operations, is the only person in the photograph wearing a Confederate uniform.
Mastriano, a far-right candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment. His extreme anti-abortion and anti-equality views, along with his alliances with organizations who promote anti-semitism and conspiracy theories make many members of his own party uneasy. He has been an extremely vocal election denier with strong ties to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
His opponent in the race for governor, Democrat Josh Shapiro, blasted Mastriano for choosing to wear a uniform that is embraced by white supremacists, and symbolic of the Confederate Army’s fight to keep Black people enslaved.
“It’s deeply offensive and proves who he is, once again. He’s unfit to be Governor,” Shapiro wrote on Twitter.
Mastriano’s senior campaign advisor and former Trump lawyer, Jenna Ellis, characteristically pushed back against charges of racism, accusing the media of having a “melt down” over the photo.
Across the United States, monuments and flags honoring the Confederacy have been removed from many public areas in recent years.
The military issued a de facto ban on displaying the Confederate flag and has sought to remove segregationist symbols from its bases and schools following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
After Reuters requested the photo under the Freedom of Information Act, the school removed it from a wall where it had been displayed among other faculty portraits.
The Army War College told Reuters staffers had reviewed all art, text, and other images on display, but missed the photo of Mastriano in a Confederate uniform.
“The faculty photo did not get the team’s attention; the photo has since been removed because it does not meet AWC values,” the college said in a statement to Reuters.
Asked about the War College photo, a spokesperson at US Army headquarters said: “The Army supports commanders who remove symbols or images that do not comport with Army values.”