Republican political ads often feature appeals to “home,” and “family,” and “patriotism.” The exact content can vary, but most usually include some sort of maudlin music, the American flag, sometimes an eagle or a pick up truck — things recognizably “American.”
Others, like the ad of Justin Harris, feature one of three adopted girls, two of whom he would later “re-home” with their rapist when they became too much to handle — violating a DHS regulation in the process.
The Arkansas Times blog reports that Harris violated regulations of the state Department of Human Services when he featured one of the adopted girls in a campaign ad that ran while he was competing for his house seat. The DHS prohibits any activity that would compromise the anonymity of the child, and it turns out that using a photograph of the girl while she was still a ward of the foster system in his campaign compromised that anonymity.
A spokeswoman for the DHS, Amy Webb, told the Times that they couldn’t comment on Harris’ campaign ad directly. She did, however, say that “If we were made aware of a situation like you described, we would immediately call the foster or pre-adoptive parent and tell him to discontinue using the picture on any campaign material. We would not be comfortable with a foster child’s picture being used during a campaign. [DHS’s Office of Policy and Legal Services, which according to department rules, has to approve public use of any media featuring a foster child] would not agree to that either.”
The child in the ad was identified as “Jeanette” by the Times; she’s the oldest of the three girls. The family never adopted her; they would ship her off to a mental facility while keeping her sisters for a short period. They would end up “re-homing” — re-gifting, actually, since children are property and not people in the United States — the girls with another couple, one of whom raped the middle child.
Throughout the whole media storm, the Harris’ have denied any wrong doing. They insist that they’re being unfairly blamed, and that they’ve “suffered a severe injustice.” They continue to blame the DHS, saying that the DHS threatened them with abandonment charges and that they were unable to get help with the children.
Other sources call BS. The DHS disputes the claims, saying that they warned Harris not to adopt the sisters. The DHS claims that Harris reportedly threatened to cut their budget if he couldn’t adopt the girls. According to the foster mother who worked with the girls, “The problem was simple hubris. He saw it as, ‘I’m with God. God’s going to solve this.’”
[h/t and cover photo credit RS]