Ohio’s 9th congressional district might’ve looked like an easy midterm pickup for Republicans this November—but the party’s nominee, J.R. Majewski, may be dashing those hopes as his controversial military record comes under more scrutiny.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press revealed that the far-right veteran received a demotion in 2001 for drunkenly driving around the US Air Force base in Okinawa, Japan. “When you decided to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after indulging in intoxicating liquor you brought discredit upon yourself, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, and the Air Force,” reads an official record of the September 8, 2001, incident obtained by the AP. Majewski previously claimed to have been demoted over a brawl, which he claimed prevented him from reenlisting after he completed his four years of service.
This week, the candidate attempted to brush off the incident as a juvenile misadventure, telling the AP: “This mistake is now more than 20 years old. I’m sure we’ve all done something as young adults that we look back on and wonder ‘what was I thinking?’ and I’m sure our parents and grandparents share these sentiments.”
Throughout the race, Majewski has made his history of service a centerpiece of his campaign, promoting himself as an “Afghanistan war veteran” who was in combat during the early stages of the US invasion. But a separate AP investigation last week found that he never deployed to the country. His Middle East assignment was in Qatar, a US ally, where he spent six months helping to load and unload planes at an air base.
Majewski, for his part, has called the investigation a “fake hit piece” and continued to insist that he did serve in Afghanistan—albeit in a supposedly classified role that he cannot elaborate on any further. “The orders and the military records that I have been able to obtain from my personal files shows that all of my deployments are listed as classified,” the conservative hopeful said at a Friday rally. Shortly after Majewski’s apparent stolen-valor scandal, the House GOP’s campaign arm slashed an approximate $1 million ad buy it had scheduled to attack his opponent, per Politico.
Majewski, 42, is no stranger to controversy. According to AP, the conservative candidate was at the US Capitol on January 6 and previously embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory, though he has distanced himself from the online community since his campaign bid.