Army investigates soldiers in American Samoa Democratic video

Two unidentified Samoan soldiers who flanked American Samoan delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be subject to an official investigation, a Pentagon official confirmed on Saturday.

During a so-called video “roll call” of American states and territories at the Democratic National Convention, two delegates from American Samoa’s Democratic party expressed their support for the presumptive nominee for President, Joe Biden.

“As President [Joe Biden] will continue to strengthen rural America, from New England to the Pacific,”  Petti Matila, who serves as an executive assistant at the American Samoa Department of Commerce said. 

Aliitama Sotoa, the Chairman of the American Samoa Democratic Party, cast the territory’s 11 votes, on behalf of the Territory’s Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, to the country’s “next President, Joe Biden”. (Governor Lolo is affiliated with the Democratic party). 

This was a rare example of members of the United States military apparently breaching strict rules against perceived political partisanship.

“The Army is investigating two Soldiers from the 9th Mission Support Command who appeared in uniform during the Democratic National Convention on Aug.18,” a Pentagon spokesman told the Samoa Observer in a statement on Saturday morning.

“Wearing a uniform to a partisan political event like this is prohibited.  

“The Army follows the Department of Defense's longstanding and well-defined policy regarding political campaigns and elections to avoid the perception of [Depart of Defence] sponsorship, approval or endorsement of any political candidate, campaign or cause.

“Examples of prohibited political activities include campaigning for a candidate, soliciting contributions, marching in a partisan parade and wearing the uniform to a partisan event.”

The Democratic National Convention is held every four years and is the formal process by which a presidential candidate is elected. All states (and territories) who are eligible to pledge delegates or representatives do so as a means of formally appointing the party’s political candidate.

Vice-President Biden received an overwhelming result of just under 75 per cent of all delegates, or more than 3800 in total ensuring his nomination to take on sitting President Trump at this year’s forthcoming United States election on Tuesday 3 November. 

The two soldiers who appeared in the video, one male and one female, both wore protective masks against the coronavirus.

The local chapter of the American Samoa Democratic party said that they had been mistakenly chosen for inclusion in the video and had been done so to emphasise the point that American Samoa remains the only United States jurisdiction to remain free of the virus.

The American Samoa Government recently closed its borders off from flights from the rest of the United States, namely via Hawaii, in the name of preserving its virus free status. 

An unquoted Democratic National Committee official was quoted as telling the ABC news video that the inclusion of the soldiers was an “oversight” on their part.

The military in Washington will now investigate how that oversight was allowed to happen.

Ironically, in March, Vice-President Biden received almost no support from the American Samoa Democratic caucus when they held their vote for the next candidate.

It was billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg who emerged victorious, securing 49 per cent of the local party’s support.

That was the only caucus which Mr. Bloomberg won despite spending a reported $500 million on his campaign. 

The corresponding Republican National Convention, which is widely expected to renominate President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, will be held next week.

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