The contest to replace retiring Long Island GOP Rep. Peter King has taken a combative turn, with Republicans attacking the military record of Democrat candidate Jackie Gordon.
Army vet Gordon is locked in a tough election battle with Republican Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino.
Gordon, a Babylon Town Councilwoman, has played up her 29 years of Army service during the campaign.
In a sign of the race’s tightness, the National Republican Congressional Committee has launched a hard-hitting ad campaign pointing to blemishes in her military record.
The NRCC cited a military investigation of Gordon when she commanded the 310th Military Police Battalion in Afghanistan that found she had a “toxic” relationship with some of her subordinates that “posed a significant threat to her battalion” and recommended that she be relieved from her command based on leadership “deficiencies.”
“Jackie Gordon abandoned her battalion without permission,” the ad claims, referring to when she took brief time off for duty during her re-election campaign and swearing in to the Babylon Council in 2011-2012.
The Post has obtained copies of Department of Defense’s records of its probes of Gordon, first reported by The Daily Caller.
Gordon’s campaign site notes she served as a platoon leader in Germany during Operation Desert Storm, as an operations officer at Guantanamo Bay, as a battle captain in Baghdad during the US-led invasion of Iraq, and as Commander of the 310th Military Police Battalion in Afghanistan in 2012.
A high school guidance counselor, Gordon retired from the Army Reserve with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2014.
Gordon and Democrats have spent millions of dollars on ads touting her military service and it’s only fair to scrutinize the record, GOP sources said.
“Jackie Gordon has made her military service the only piece of her campaign and if these allegations are true, and they appear to be, the voters of the Second Congressional district deserve to know the truth about her military record,” Garbarino said in a statement.
“Ms. Gordon should make herself available and address the allegations contained in these military reports,” her GOP opponent said.
Gordon’s campaign had no immediate comment.
State Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said the GOP’s “despicable smear” will backfire.
“Jackie put her life on the line to protect our country. We should honor her service,” said Jacobs, who also serves as Nassau County Democratic leader.
“What this shows is that the race is trending in Jackie’s direction.”
One Long Island Republican insider confided that the GOP is “having real trouble” trying to keep Peter King’s seat.
One investigative memo said, “LTC Gordon’s relationship with her current command team is becoming increasingly dysfunctional, causing a sensed polarization of her Battalion and impacting the Battalion’s cohesiveness. It appears that ever since the Battalion’s leadership conducted their Pre-Deployment Site Survey in Afghanistan, the Battalion Commander has increasingly estranged herself from her entire command element.”
“I recommend that LTC Gordon be removed from the battle roster and relieved from command.”
One prober reported that Gordon left her battalion without permission to be sworn into office in January, 2012 following her re-election to the Babylon Council.
She also was rapped after subordinates lied to investigators about a missing grenade launcher.
Gordon would follow in the footsteps of another Army veteran and Democrat who was elected to Congress two years ago– Staten Island Rep. Max Rose, who is locked in his own fierce re-election battle with Republican opponent Nicole Malliotakis.