Service members at an Air Force base in North Dakota received a text message warning them not to attend a nearby Patriot rally.
Minot Air Force Base personnel received a text message urging them to “be careful” about a November 17th rally at the state fairgrounds in Minot.
The rally, called the “Dakota Patriot Rally,” featured a guest speaker from Turning Point Action.
According to Fox News, the warning received by service members said Turning Point Action is an “alt-right” organization.
“Leaders, please exercise caution if downtown this weekend,” the text message read, according to Fox News.
It also told Minot Air Force Base personnel to “reach out for any concerns.”
Air Force base warns service members to avoid 'patriot' rally with speaker from pro-Trump group https://t.co/a1yVrvLbGV
— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 21, 2023
Fox News reports:
At issue was a planned Nov. 17 event dubbed the “Dakota Patriot Rally” at the state fairgrounds in Minot, and the text warned personnel “to be cautious” if they were in the area, especially because some rally-goers “could be confrontational to military members.” The text, which was shared with the popular “Air Force amen/nco/snco” Facebook page, also noted that the event would feature a guest speaker from Turning Point Action, which the warning noted is an “alt-right” organization.
Turning Point Action, a 501(c)(4) organization founded in 2019, typically promotes conservative values and has a history of support for former President Donald Trump.
Though the group has attracted controversy for questioning the results of the 2020 presidential election and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, it has become a mainstay in conservative political circles. According to a report from the New York Times, the group’s July 2023 ACTCON conference in Florida drew about 6,000 attendees and included speaking engagements by Trump and about a third of Republican presidential candidates who were declared at the time.
The Dakota Patriot Rally speaker about whom the text warned was Turning Point Action Chief Operating Officer Tyler Bowyer, according to the event website, which noted Bowyer is a “conservative activist” who worked in several political positions before joining Turning Point USA.
The text message to members at Minot Air Force Base warned “that participation with groups such as Turning Point Action could jeopardize their continued service in the U.S. military.”
Journalist Miranda Devine called the story “outrageous.”
Outrageous story. Air Force base warns members not to attend rally with pro-Trump group speaker https://t.co/UfBge2pA4b
— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) November 21, 2023
“Whoever thought sending this message out was a good idea is definitely gonna be answering questions under oath in the Armed Services Committee,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said.
Whoever thought sending this message out was a good idea is definitely gonna be answering questions under oath in the Armed Services Committee. @RepJimBanks @CoryMillsFL @RepMarkAlford https://t.co/lEHKjshVFd
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) November 21, 2023
American Military News has more on the story:
Contacted by Fox News regarding the event, an anonymous Turning Point Action spokesperson explained that the recent “Dakota Patriot Rally” event was not officially recognized by the organization; however, the spokesperson described the threatening message sent by Air Force leaders as “absolutely appalling.”
“Tyler Bowyer was simply a keynote speaker. Secondly, Turning Point Action is not alt-right, it’s a mainstream conservative organization, and Tyler Bowyer is not some fringe personality—he’s the COO of TPAction, an RNC committeeman from the state of Arizona, and one of the most accomplished political organizers in the country,” the spokesperson stated. “Lastly, Mr. Bowyer and attendees of this event are not ‘confrontational to military members,’ they’re some of the US Military’s most ardent supporters.”
The Turning Point Action spokesperson also emphasized the “shocking and totally unacceptable” concept that military members could jeopardize their careers by participating with Turning Point Action.
“How dare they dissuade servicemen and women from affiliating with conservative groups and leaders,” the spokesperson added. “This should set off alarm bells throughout North Dakota and DC, that something is terribly wrong at the Minot Air Force base.”
The Turning Point Action spokesperson said the Air Force text message should result in an “immediate” hearing and investigation by Congress, adding that whoever sent the controversial text message “should be held accountable.”
“It’s exactly this type of poison that has caused the Air Force to miss its recruiting goal for the first time in decades,” the spokesperson concluded.