Controversy over military record dogs Council candidate

A controversy over Philadelphia City Council candidate David Oh’s military record may cost him political support.

John McNesby, president of the police officers union, the Fraternal Order of Police has said he’ll ask his board of directors to withdraw its endorsement of Oh.

Oh is an attorney who’s run for City Council twice before as a progressive outsider, and appeared to be in strong position to win one of two Republican Council-at-Large seats this year.

But a front page story in the Daily News raised questions about the way Oh has described his military record, quoting his former commanding officer as saying Oh stretched the truth in suggesting he was a special forces officer, a Green Beret.

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John Stryker Meyer, a former Green Beret who is incoming president of the Special Operations Association, a national group of former special forces officers from all branches of the military, said he’s troubled by Oh’s  story.

“The Green Beret is something that’s earned,” Meyer said.

Oh initially disputed the Daily News story in a Facebook post, saying he’d accurately reported that in the army he served as a second lieutenant in a special forces unit.

But Meyer called that explanation “tap dancing around the issue.”

“You’re not a certified Green Beret until you complete the special forces training group,” Meyer said.

Oh didn’t return calls to NewsWorks, but he’s now apologized to a website run for former special forces officers. He acknowledged he never completed Special Forces training and promised to run two full-page newspaper ads clarifying his record.

How much will the flap hurt Oh’s chances?

Political analyst Larry Ceisler notes it’s the kind of thing that probably matters to Philadelphia Republicans.

“If you’re a person has remained a Republican in a city like Philadelphia, chances are they are conservative voters,” Ceisler said.

But Ceisler noted that Oh gets substantial support from progressive Democrats, and he said media attention in August isn’t the same as coverage in the heat of the election.

“The only way it really affects a David Oh candidacy is if one of his Republican challengers is able to raise enough money to make an issue of the military record,” Ceisler said, “and I just don’t see that.”

Oh is one of five Republican Council at Large candidates. The election is November 8th.

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