Strickland & Ohio Veterans Condemn Portman’s New Ad Touting His Advocacy for a Company that Sold Defective Helmets to U.S. Military

COLUMBUS, OH –– Today, Ted Strickland joined veteran and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan and veteran and Cincinnati AFL-CIO leader Mark Caddo on a press conference call to condemn Sen. Rob Portman’s new television advertisement touting his advocacy for a company that sold defective helmets to the U.S. military.

The Strickland campaign is also launching a new online petition where Ohioans can add their name to speak out against the ad.

“When a soldier puts on a helmet, they’re trusting it will protect them -- and for Senator Portman to thumb his nose at our nation’s solemn promise to have our soldiers’ backs is unconscionable,” said veteran Tim Hagan. “It’s no secret that Rob Portman and his big-money allies are pumping more money on TV than our state has ever seen -- but with this ad, it has gone way too far.” 

“It is my view that no politician should be helping a company that is putting American service members in harm’s way like Senator Rob Portman has,” said veteran Mark Caddo.  “Senator Portman’s decision to help ArmorSource get a taxpayer funded contract after safety shortcomings were identified and his disturbing decision to brag about it in a political advertisement is deeply offensive. It’s an insult to the brave men and women of the military and their families who deserve our respect – not Rob Portman’s opportunistic political games. This isn’t the first time that Senator Portman has put his personal gain over standing up for members of the military: Ted Strickland is standing up against the hateful comments Donald Trump has made about our military, while Senator Portman continues to sit down, fall in line and stick by his endorsement of Donald Trump no matter how disrespectful, no matter how hateful or how inappropriately Trump treats our men and women in uniform. Senator Rob Portman’s ad is just the latest evidence of a petty man putting his own political ambitions ahead of our national security, our service members and their families.”

“Senator Portman has a clear and alarming record of turning his back on our veterans, military families and national security,” said Ted Strickland. “This offensive ad is just the tip of the iceberg. Senator Portman has also refused to attend an alarming 72 percent of his Homeland Security hearings, bragged that the rise of ISIS would help his polling numbers, and tried to sabotage the efforts of our national security experts by communicating directly with the Ayatollah of Iran. At best, these disgraceful examples show that Senator Portman prioritizing his political ambitions at the expense of our military families, and at worst, Senator Portman’s actions have put our national security and our service members at risk.”

Cleveland.com reported that the company Portman is touting in his new ad – ArmorSource – paid $3 million to settle allegations that their helmets failed ballistic safety tests.Previously, theHuffington Post reported that Portman helped the company secure an additional taxpayer-funded contract after it was revealed they sold the defective helmets to the military. And both the Columbus Dispatch and the Washington Post highlighted a recent Department of Justice Inspector General Report detailing the company’s questionable practices.  

Following the settlement, Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit criticized the company’s actions as “unconscionable,” saying they threatened the lives “of our young men and women who serve this nation.”

On the call, Strickland discussed how this new TV ad fits into a pattern of national security and military-related problems that have arisen for Portman:

Portman touted helping a company that sold dangerously defective helmets to the U.S. military receive an additional military contract. 

  • Cleveland.com: “The ad, seen on the air in Cleveland, highlights the Republican senator's efforts to ensure Hebron-based ArmorSource was able to successfully bid to make the Army's lightweight advanced combat helmet, securing more than 200 jobs. But earlier this year, ArmorSource paid $3 million to settle allegations that a different kind of helmet, sold to the U.S. military between 2006 and 2009, failed ballistic safety tests.” 

  • The Huffington Post: “Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is touting his work on behalf of ArmorSource… What the ad doesn’t say is that earlier this month, ArmorSource paid $3 million to settle allegations that helmets it previously sold to the U.S. military…’Equipment that fails to meet performance standards not only cheats taxpayers, but can put lives at risk,’ said Benjamin Mizer, head of DOJ’s Civil Division…’”

Portman missed an alarming 72 percent of his Homeland Security Committee hearings.

  • Politico: “Portman's attendance record on the [Homeland Security Committee] is worse: He's missed 72 percent of the hearings… POLITICO's review of the committee attendance records from 2011 to the end of 2015, based on research from Democratic groups, committee transcripts and C-SPAN footage, included hearings and business meetings…”

  • The Columbus Dispatch: “The Ohio Democratic Party is teeing off on a report that Sen. Rob Portman has missed 72 percent of his Homeland Security Committee hearings during his first five years in the Senate.”

  • The Portsmouth Daily Times: Ohio veterans condemned Portman: “‘State Representative and former Congressman John Boccieri, who deployed multiple times in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, said, ‘It is extremely disappointing that Senator Portman didn’t take his duties on the Homeland Security Committee seriously...’”

  • Toledo Blade: Portman held fundraisers on the same days he missed critical Homeland Security Committee hearings: “Among topics covered in the missed hearings were terrorists’ access to visas, domestic terrorism threats, and national preparedness for biological and chemical threats. They occurred on Sept. 9, 2014; July 17, 2013; July 13, 2011; May 17, 2011; and Sept. 13, 2011 in Washington; and in New York on May 13, 2013.”

Portman tried to sabotage America’s top national security experts from the sidelines by communicating directly with the Ayatollah of Iran.

  • Toledo Blade editorial: Portman’s “reckless letter to Iranian leaders has damaged American credibility worldwide.”

  • Cleveland.com editorial: Portman’s decision to sign the letter “is as depressingly partisan as it is shortsighted.”

Portman bragged that the rise of ISIS would help his polling numbers.

  • Talking Points Memo: Portman said, “And I think that, probably based on the polling I've seen, what I hear, [ISIS] probably helps the Republican Party.”

  • MSNBC: Portman “went down a problematic road… The obvious issue is that it’s unseemly for a politician to talk up the partisan benefits of Americans fearing terrorism. There’s something inherently crass about Portman arguing that the ISIS focus ‘helps the Republican Party.’” 

  • Columbus Dispatch: “Democrats are taking issue with Sen. Rob Portman’s assertion that the threat of terrorism helps Republicans politically… ‘Portman should be working to defeat ISIS, not tracking how their despicable acts impact his polling numbers.’”

Portman used images of fallen American soldiers in a political advertisement.

  • Columbus Dispatch: “... a Portman Web ad attacking Strickland included an image of flag-draped coffins of U.S. veterans… ‘It kind of makes my skin crawl,’ said former state Rep. Connie Pillich, a Montgomery Democrat and Air Force veteran who calls the use of the image in a political ad ‘beyond the pale’ and ‘highly disrespectful.’”

Portman voted to shut down the Department of Homeland Security.

  • Columbus Dispatch: “Portman votes no on Homeland Security spending bill… Sen. Rob Portman has been pressed all week on whether he’d support a “ clean” bill paying for the Department of Homeland Security… Today, we got an answer: Nope.”

  • Toledo Blade: “U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) voted against a so-called clean Homeland Security funding billFriday… Mr. Portman was one of 31 Republican senators who opposed the compromise legislation aimed at averting a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, tasked with protecting the United States from terrorism.”

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