MCPO Terence Hoey, USN (Ret) held a press conference on April 16 to accuse Assemblyman Randy Voepel of Stolen Valor/Military Fraud. Hoey outlined three violations of CA Military Fraud Law (AB153). The media were so focused on litigating one of the accusations, and dismissing another, that they chose to ignore the proven accusation.
The three accusations Hoey made were:
1- Misrepresentation of his military service as a brownwater sailor.
2- Wearing the combat action ribbon without authorization.
3- Misrepresentation of combat injuries (which make Voepel eligible for a Purple Heart)
The media approached this press conference like a trial. Jennifer Kastner of KGTV, JW August of KNSD and Joshua Stewart from the San Diego Union-Tribune interrupted Hoey repeatedly and dismissed Hoey’s witness as unreliable before he was finished speaking (Kastner even went so far to call him an “alleged witness” even though he was on the East County Tea Party video). The media attended with an agenda to discredit Hoey rather than seek the truth about Hoey’s accusations.
Everyone at the press conference had copies of Voepel’s military records but not one of those copies said the exact same thing. As odd as this sounds, it’s not necessarily uncommon for older veterans. Requests under FOIA are reviewed by an analyst who generates a report. Human error can come into play with each FOIA request. A simple solution to that problem is to view a copy of Randy Voepel’s original Form DD 214-N (which Voepel staffer Mason Herron offered to let me see before he went into hiding).
The proven accusation is that Randy Voepel misrepresented his service as a Riverine boat sailor. Hoey presented pictures of Voepel wearing the Small Craft Insignia to the media and they declared them to be “blurry”. Not one copy of Voepel’s military records (obtained through FOIA requests) show that he served as anything other than a Radarman on two destroyers. Voepel did not earn the Small Craft Insignia, never fought in the “Navy Infantry” with the Korean Tiger Division, and never inserted SEAL teams as a Forward Gunner on a Patrol Boat, River. He admitted that in his statement to the Times of San Diego.
Ken Stone of the Times of San Diego and Miriam Raftery of East County Magazine are the only members of the media who did the hard, investigative journalism to find videos of Voepel misrepresenting his brownwater Navy service. Stone published these videos and was the only journalist to get the Voepel campaign to make a statement (in which Voepel admits that his misrepresented his service in the brownwater Navy. ) Even after the online, local media scooped The U-T KGTV, and KNSD, all of the mainstream media outlets have ignored this story. To cover what Stone and Raftery unearthed would be to admit that they were being outhustled by alternative media.
Hoey accused Voepel of wearing an award (Combat Action Ribbon) which Hoey claims he hasn’t earned. Voepel’s staffer, Mason Herron furnished the media with a copy of Voepel’s DD214-N to disprove Hoey’s accusation. Hoey claims that the digital copy is altered and thereby void (consistent with DOD and VA policies). Not one media member asked Herron to see the original DD214-N. (which Herron invited me to see it before he went into hiding).
Hoey accused Voepel of making public claims that he was wounded in combat, making him eligible for the Purple Heart. Hoey interviewed a staffer in Congressman Hunter’s office, who alleged that Voepel made these claims at the 2017 Veterans Day Ceremony at Viejas Casino (in Alpine, CA). Hoey said, “The Hunter staffer alleged that Voepel held up a copy of X-rays, in front of the crowd, as proof of his combat injuries.” Hoey was unwilling to “out” that Hunter staffer on camera but gave media the Hunter staffer’s name and number. Nobody from the media has contacted the Hunter staffer and the Hunter staffer, like Mason Herron, has also gone into hiding.
Terry Hoey is not a journalist. He isn’t a politician. He’s a retired Master Chief Petty Officer with over 38 years service in the US Navy and law enforcement. He’s a middle-aged man who still carries himself with military bearing of a recently-promoted NCO. He’s a New Yorker; he can be brash and direct. I sensed that the San Diego mainstream media were more interested in drawing Hoey into a fight (for theatrics) than listening to the findings of his investigation.
Hoey made three accusations: one has already been proven, one was deemed “settled” without further investigation, and one just isn’t being investigated. Voepel is hoping to run out the clock until the June election and hiding rather than confronting Hoey’s accusations. The San Diego mainstream media seem almost complicit with Voepel’s strategy.
Does this matter?
That depends. Local elected officials, who have endorsed Voepel for Assembly, are unwilling to call for Wilske to suspend his campaign for the office Voepel holds–this is highly inconsistent with the way Republican elected officials have treated challenges to incumbents. If Voepel’s representations are above reproach, those Republican elected officials should show leadership and stop this fiasco as soon as possible.
But Voepel has already admitted that he has technically violated the very law (AB153) which he co-sponsored. Both his representations on the campaign trail of being a brownwater sailor, and his public display of the Small Craft Insignia, are direct violations of the law he wrote.
If the media and Voepel’s endorsers feel that Voepel’s admission is “a nothing burger”, they admit that the law Voepel passed is toothless. If the law Voepel passed should be ignored, then the media and Voepel’s endorsers should publicly state as much and call for Wilske to drop out of the race.
Wilske’s campaign notwithstanding, Terence Hoey isn’t going away. Hoey has a national reputation for investigating military fraud and proving it. “Valor Thieves sometimes threaten me with legal action but never act on it. The main reason I flew to San Diego, at my own expense, and held the press conference at the USS Midway, is to give Voepel legal standing to sue me.” Hoey said. “A lawsuit however opens up the discovery process and Voepel, like all Valor Thieves, don’t want attorneys, judges, or juries to view his records. ”
Voepel’s re-election may (or may not) happen but Hoey intends to pursue his investigation until the accusations are adjudicated.
PS– Last week, One America News Network ran a 4.5 minute clip about the story. OANN presented the (proven) accusation about the Riverine boats claim, factually.