Brig. Gen. Martin Schweitzer, seen here when he was a colonel, was disciplined for a raunchy email exchange with two high-ranking officers about a female lawmaker. Schweitzer's promotion to 2-star is currently under review. (Army)
A top commander with the 82nd Airborne Division was disciplined after he called a female lawmaker “smoking hot” and jokingly referred to masturbation in an email to two high-ranking officers.
Brig. Gen. Martin Schweitzer, then an official with the 82nd Airborne Division, sent the email shortly after Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., visited Fort Bragg, N.C. Her district includes the post.
Schweitzer, now an official working in the Joint Chiefs of Staff office, reportedly received a “memorandum of concern” in his personnel file. His previously announced promotion to major general has been put on hold pending a review, an Army spokesman told the Washington Post.
Schweitzer’s behavior and punishment was first reported by the Washington Post in a story that detailed investigations into misconduct by other high-ranking officers. The newspaper obtained and published partially redacted copies of the investigations.
Army prosecutors at Fort Bragg found Schweitzer’s “raunchy exchange” with Lt. Gen. James Huggins and Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair while examining Sinclair’s emails. Sinclair is facing a court-martial on sexual assault, adultery and other charges related to a three-year extramarital affair and other alleged misconduct.
The offending exchange started in March 2011, after Schweitzer, then a colonel and the deputy commander for operations for the 82nd, held a meeting with Ellmers, a newly elected House member whose district included Fort Bragg. Ellmers had taken office two months earlier.
Schweitzer summarized the meeting in an email to Huggins, then his superior and a major general, while copying Sinclair, then a fellow colonel and commander with the 82nd.
“First — she is smoking hot,” Schweitzer wrote. “Second — briefing went well ... she was engaging ... had done her homework. She wants us to know she stands with us and will work/push to get the Fort Bragg family resourced.”
Sinclair responded to Huggins and Schweitzer, “He sucks :)still need to confirm hotness.”
Huggins responded, “Damn, Jeff - Marty pulled a Tweeden on us!!!”
The inspector general’s report indicates Huggins was referring to a model, news correspondent and television host who has participated in several USO tours in support of service members. The name is redacted in the Army’s report, but there is a Leeann Tweeden who fits that description.
The comment, according to the report, referred to a private meeting between Huggins and the woman when she visited troops years earlier. She had asked Huggins to meet to discuss soldier morale issues, sparking a “running joke” between Huggins and Sinclair that Huggins “purposely arranged the meeting,” according to the Army’s report.
After more than an hour, Schweitzer replied with an apology for the delay, saying he had “jacked off 3 times over the past 2 hours.”
In response to the Washington Post’s Freedom of Information Act request, the Army censored the most offensive email in its entirety, citing personal privacy interests. It also redacted Ellmers’s name and all references to her position as a member of Congress.
The Post, and Army Times, obtained an original, uncensored copy of the e-mails.
Ellmers said the references made about her without her knowledge were “entirely inappropriate of the commanders who are tapped with leading the men and women under their command.”
Ellmers lauded Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Campbell, who visited her in her Washington office earlier this month to brief her on the investigation, the allegations and the action taken.
“I am pleased with the corrective actions that are taking place and how they handled this very difficult situation,” she said in a statement.
The Army inspector general’s investigation, dated Aug. 23, 2013, concluded Schweitzer “failed to demonstrate exemplary conduct” and used Army communications “for an unauthorized purpose.”
Schweitzer had told investigators he regretted the email, calling it “childish,” “stupid,” and a “misguided attempt to get a laugh from two of my close working partners.”
He said that while his comments were wrong, “I am an honorable man” who is not perfect. “This horrible attempt at a joke ... is not who I am nor is it a representation of my values.”
Huggins, who later corrected Schweitzer face-to-face, telling him the joke was not funny, was cleared of wrongdoing by the investigation. Sinclair was not investigated because he was facing a court-martial.