RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina legislator has apologized after a campaign flier that was meant to cast him as military-friendly featured a photo portraying advancing German World War II soldiers.
The direct-mail political consulting firm that produced the promotional piece designed to boost state Rep. Tim Spear, D-Washington, said it was solely responsible for the mistake. He is running against Republican Bob Steinberg.
The flier destined for about 10,000 homes in Spear's district was headlined: "In North Carolina, One Legislator is Covering Our Soldiers' Backs." It described Spear's support for military-friendly legislation, including bills that made it harder to foreclose the homes of active-duty service members.
The art department at Washington, D.C.-based MSHC Partners found a photo that visually captured the Spear's message, but no one noticed that it showed the backs of four advancing World War II re-enactors dressed in German army uniforms, senior account executive Mike Brown said Wednesday.
"A picture's worth a thousand words, and with this the picture conveyed the wrong words," Brown said.
Spear said he was first alerted to trouble Saturday, when supporters who had served in WWII contacted him about the goof.
"It was not only an insult to our military men and women and our veterans, but it was a personal insult to me," Spear said, adding that his father was a tank gunner who fought in Europe during World War II. "Even though I did not prepare it, it was sent in my name. And I apologized to the constituents" in a letter sent to local newspapers.
Spear's district primarily includes long stretches of islands along the Outer Banks and waterfront communities on Pamlico Sound. The error was previously reported by the Chowan Herald, a weekly newspaper in Edenton.
Spear, 58, said he refined the flier's language with staffers of the North Carolina Democratic Party, which paid for it. A party spokeswoman referred questions to MSHC, which was paid to design the finished product.
The photo is listed for sale at a web site selling stock images. Its description specifies it shows re-enactors dressed as German soldiers advancing toward an enemy position, and that it was taken at a 2008 show in England featuring WWII vehicles.
"This is a mistake we definitely should not have made," Brown said.