U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota grilled Joe Biden’s secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro, for allegedly obstructing a former Navy SEAL from running for Minnesota’s Third Congressional District last year.
The case of Lt. Adam Schwarze is “a horrible vignette of how the Navy, I think, far too often treats its people,” Cramer said during a Senate Armed Services hearing earlier this month. “From my vantage point, Mr. Secretary,” this was “a witch-hunt.”
Our sailors are up against inefficient paperwork processes, administrative barriers, and politicized decision-making during their service.
In today's @SASCGOP hearing, I pressed @SECNAV on the force's mistreatment of its service members. Watch it here ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/fLAPSSRFTS
— Sen. Kevin Cramer (@SenKevinCramer) April 18, 2023
Schwarze joined the Navy in 2012 after receiving a political science degree from the University of Minnesota.
He sought permission from the Navy to run for political office last year while serving his final few months in the Navy. His request was approved by the chief of naval operations but, as pointed out by Cramer in his testimony, was denied by Del Toro. Schwarze then applied for early retirement, which was endorsed by the commander of naval personnel but denied by Del Toro’s office, according to Cramer.
Schwarze was directed to return to his SEAL unit in Hawaii “where he could then be punished,” Cramer said. Prior to this, Schwarze was a candidate for the Republican nomination in the Third District.
Cramer informed Del Toro that he personally intervened on Schwarze’s behalf, but his efforts were repeatedly stymied.
“You pulled his Trident and then prevented him from retiring on time,” Cramer exclaimed. “You went after this decorated hero with a veracity that made my staff, including a commander in the military, reach out to him to check his well-being and reach out to the Navy to make sure that they were looking out for his well-being.”
“The Naval Special Warfare Group lawyers proceeded to rip apart [Schwarze’s] history, his dedication, and questioned his integrity with statements that literally, quote, ‘call into question his sincerity and trustworthiness,’” he continued.
“Is there a standard where Navy lawyers are allowed to just absolutely trash a guy’s reputation, create misstatements — factually untrue statements — about his career and his claims?” he wondered.
Del Toro feigned ignorance of the finer details of Schwarze’s case, invoking the Hatch Act to justify preventing him from seeking public office.
“We have a responsibility in the Department of Defense that all service members actually act in accordance with the Hatch Act. And Lt. Adam Schwarze, he knew exactly what the rules and requirements of the Hatch Act were. We cannot allow uniformed service personnel, even if they are one day from retirement, to participate in political activities, especially election related activities.”
Del Toro was nominated to his post as secretary of the Navy by Joe Biden in June 2021. He assumed office in August 2021.
“In summary: you screwed the sailor’s paperwork up — constantly, repeatedly — you made a political decision on his future, you tarred and feathered him out of revenge, a board of inquiry unanimously absolved him of all charges, you held him past his retirement date until the law actually required you to let him out, and you left a patriot feeling like the Navy doesn’t care about him, or worse, at the end of his service, and you kept his Trident,” Cramer concluded.
Minnesota’s Third Congressional District is currently represented by Democrat Dean Phillips, who first won election in 2018. He beat Republican challenger Tom Weiler, a former U.S. Navy submarine officer, 60-40% in 2022.
Stephen Kokx, M.A., is a journalist for LifeSiteNews. He previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago under the late Francis Cardinal George. A former community college instructor, Stephen has written and spoken extensively about Catholic social teaching and politics. His essays have appeared in such outlets as Catholic Family News and CatholicVote.org.