John Murtha's 2008 Republican challenger has accused an aide to the Pennsylvania congressman of threatening to recall him to active military service so the Army could court-martial him, Politico reports. Participating in elective politics while on active duty is against military policy. Russell, who retired from the Army Reserves during the campaign, says John Hugya issued the threat in March, after saying something similar to Russell's commanding officer in January.
The Murtha camp calls the charges spurious, and ethics experts agree that although Hugya's statements might not be polite, they don't represent violations. "Look, there’s a certain rough-and-tumble in politics," says a former House counsel. No one in Murtha's office has contacted the Pentagon about starting court-martial proceedings against Russell.