GOP senators demanded answers over the Navy’s apparent sanction of a drag queen for an unadvertised “digital ambassador” program in a letter sent to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro on Wednesday and obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
News that the Navy brought on an active-duty drag queen to participate in a pilot program aimed at reaching a wider audience through popular social media platforms received widespread criticism from conservatives in recent days as the Navy deals with historic recruiting challenges. GOP senators asked for transparency on the so-called Digital Ambassador program in which Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, stage name Harpy Daniels, was apparently the first to participate, and asked the Navy whether it approves of sexually explicit performances in the letter, dated May 3.
“Would the Navy enlist burlesque or exotic dancers to reach possible recruits? Such activity is not appropriate for promotion in a professional workplace or the United States military,” Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and 12 others said in the letter.
“We understand the need to reach broadly across the eligible population to improve recruiting outcomes, but we question promotion of social media influencers who post behaviors or activities many Americans deem inappropriate,” the letter stated. (RELATED: ‘That’s Just Not True’: GOP Senator Slams Military Officials For Blaming ‘Discrimination’ For Recruiting Problems)
The signers noted that the Navy’s 2019 social media handbook states, “It’s often hard to distinguish between the personal and the professional on the internet, so Sailors should assume any content they post may affect their personal careers and the reputation of the Navy more broadly.”
Kelley announced the Navy invited him to become the first “Navy Digital Ambassador” in a November 2022 social media post, highlighting his journey from performing on deck in 2018 to becoming a “leader” and “advocate” of people who “were oppressed for years in the service.” The Digital Ambassador initiative in which Kelley participated ran from October 2022 to March 2023 and was “designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates,” a Navy spokesperson first told the DCNF.
Alright. The U.S. Navy is now using an enlisted sailor Drag Queen as a recruiter. I’m done. China is going to destroy us. YOU GOT THIS NAVY. I can’t believe I fought for this bullshit.
— Robert J. O’Neill (@mchooyah) May 3, 2023
“This begs the question whether the Navy endorses the personal posts of its influencers and ‘ambassadors.’ If so, does the Navy endorse drag shows? Where does the Navy draw the line on promotion of the personal activities of its influencers?” the senators wrote.
In addition to Cruz and Cotton, other signatories included Ted Budd of North Carolina, Steve Daines of Montana, Eric Schmitt of Missouri, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Rick Scott of Florida, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Marco Rubio of Florida, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, Mike Lee of Utah and Roger Marshall of Kansas.
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