News of the photo's existence broke this weekend, with Democrats condemning them and far-right conservatives defending them.
CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, three years before retiring from the U.S. Army, posed in a Confederate uniform for a faculty photo at the Army War College.
The photo, which Reuters said Friday it obtained after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, shows Mastriano in the uniform in a 2013-14 portrait for the Department of Military Strategy, Plans and Operations, where he worked until he retired in 2017. Reuters said it was told that faculty at the time were given the option of dressing as a historical figure, and while a few did so, only Mastriano is shown wearing a Confederate uniform.
The Army War College said in a statement that a team in 2020 had reviewed all art, text and images displayed at the Carlisle barracks for alignment with Army values and the college's educational philosophies, but it missed the faculty photo, which “has since been removed because it does not meet AWC values.”
Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator, has spread Donald Trump’s lies about widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election and was a leading proponent in Pennsylvania of Trump’s drive to overturn the result. He was also in the crowd outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack by Trump supporters after attending the “Stop the Steal” rally nearby.
Mastriano did not immediately respond to requests for comment but retweeted a comment by Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to his campaign, who said “Media MELT DOWN that Mastriano apparently once posed as a civil war historical figure for a photo. And? He has a Ph.D in HISTORY.
“The left wants to erase history. Doug Mastriano wants us to learn from it,” Ellis tweeted.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro accused Mastriano of wearing “the uniform of traitors who fought to defend slavery,” calling it “deeply offensive” and saying his opponent was “unfit to be governor.”
Mastriano served for three decades in the Army, retiring as a colonel after serving in Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Confederate flags, symbols and statues have increasingly divided the country in recent years, with critics calling them symbols representing the struggle to retain slavery and supporters calling them displays of Southern pride and heritage.