Oklahoma State Rep. Mike Ritze is the man responsible for passing a bill to erect a Ten Commandments monument in front of the Oklahoma Capitol. Ritze even put up his own money to cover the costs. (The monument was eventually struck down as unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court.)
You would think, then, that Ritze at least takes the Commandments seriously… but it turns out he doesn’t even give a damn about the important ones since he just got caught bearing false witness about something incredibly important: He’s been exaggerating his military service.
An osteopathic doctor from the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow, Ritze has faced criticism recently from two of his Republican colleagues, Reps. Kevin McDugle and Josh West, both combat veterans, who accused him of wearing military decorations he hasn’t earned, including a Purple Heart.
McDugle, a former U.S. Marine, said he asked Ritze about a small Purple Heart medal he was wearing on his DAV hat during a House ceremony last year honoring veterans. McDugle said Ritze told him he wore the pin because he’s a supporter of Purple Heart recipients.
“In my mind, anyone who served in the military is a hero,” McDugle said. “There is no reason to embellish your service in the military.”
West, who received a Purple Heart Medal after being shot during a firefight in Karbala, Iraq, in 2003, said he also saw Ritze wearing the Purple Heart pin on the House floor.
“I take issue with those who misrepresent their service,” West said.
No one wears a Purple Heart who didn’t earn it since it’s a symbol for those who were wounded or killed in the line of duty. Ritze’s campaign website says he joined the Oklahoma National Guard in 1977 for less than a year before transferring to the U.S. Army Medical Corps Reserve. There’s no indication he was ever involved in combat.
Furthermore, he was wearing that pin on a hat indicating he’s a member of the group Disabled American Veterans. But the DAV says he’s not a member. When Ritze said he was “awarded an honorary membership,” the DAV said no such membership exists.
Ironically, Ritze supported legislation years ago that penalized people who misrepresented their military service:
In 2016, Ritze was among those who voted to increase the penalties for anyone found impersonating a member of the U.S. Armed Forces by wearing unauthorized decorations or medals.
Do as I say, not as I do. It’s not a Commandment, but it appears to be the motto Ritze lives by.
He’s facing competition in a June 26 primary for his seat. It’s unclear whether his attempt at stolen valor will hurt him against fellow Republicans.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Brian for the link)