FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) — A Fort Bragg officer’s military future is unclear as she is being investigated by the Army for attending Wednesday’s rally that turned deadly in Washington D.C.
Military members are allowed to attend political rallies, but they cannot actively participate, says Fayetteville attorney and retired U.S. Army Judge Advocate Kris Poppe.
“Just like any other citizen, service members should be educated and involved in the way their government works,” Poppe said.
While attending political rallies, service members can’t wear their uniforms, identify themselves as being in the military, lead speeches, collect signatures, or distribute fliers, among other things.
The Associated Press reports Psychological Operations Officer Capt. Emily Rainey says she led 100 members of the Moore County Citizens for Freedom to the rally in an effort to stand against the election, and support President Donald Trump.
Rainey says she followed all military guidelines and did not break any laws.
Poppe says cases like this can be difficult to determine whether a soldier has crossed a line.
“Now, as to what they’re investigating, that’s difficult to say because an army officer or a service member is permitted to attend political rallies, is permitted to attend public gatherings,” Poppe said.
Poppe says there are two things that can turn into problems when a service member attends a rally.
One is if they do something illegal like violate curfew or cross a barricade.
The other is if they become an active participant or leader in a partisan rally.
“If it was determined to be a partisan rally, you can’t lead that partisan group to that rally,” Poppe said.
The group Rainey is a part of describes itself on Facebook as a non-partisan group from Moore County dedicated to promoting conservative values.
“People need to accept that even though a service member participated in an activity that is deemed to be publicly scrutinized at this point, it doesn’t mean the service member did anything wrong,” Poppe said. “People need to be very cautious before they assume a service member did do something wrong.”
The U.S. Army confirms Rainey submitted her resignation in October.
Her final separation date is in April, pending the results of the investigation.
Rainey was charged in connection with taking down caution tape from a Southern Pines playground last year. The tape was up as part of COVID-19 restrictions.
This is the full statement from 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) about the investigation:
“Our command is aware of Capt. Emily Rainey’s presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and is currently investigating to determine the facts as to her exact involvement.
It is unclear if she violated any laws or regulations, as the DoD encourages members of the Armed Forces to carry out the obligation of citizenship, so long as their actions are in keeping with DoD policy and do not impair the good order and discipline of the service. The investigation will determine whether further actions by the command are warranted.
At this time there is no indication any other members of the command were present at the Capitol.
Capt. Rainey is an active duty Psychological Operations officer assigned to 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne). She previously submitted her resignation request in Oct. 2020, which was approved in November for a separation date in April 2021.
The command is aware of Capt. Rainey’s actions last year at a park in Southern Pines, NC, and took appropriate administrative action at that time. “
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