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5 veterans say Sinema used them as 'window dressing' for her own image

Kyrsten Sinema
Kyrsten Sinema in 2019.

Five veterans serving U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on an advisory council resigned Thursday, accusing the Democrat of reneging on campaign promises to her constituents.

In a letter announcing their resignation, the veterans accused Sinema of using them as “window dressing” to bolster her image while ignoring feedback urging the senator to protect voting rights, support President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, including measures to make prescription drugs more affordable.

“You campaigned on lowering prescription drug prices, but now you’re opposing the Build Back Better Act,” said Silvia Gonzales Andersh, one of the veterans who resigned and helped film an ad with Common Defense, a progressive veterans advocacy group. “Are you choosing to answer to big donors rather than Arizonans?”

“These are not the actions of a maverick,” Andersh reads in the ad — a knock on Sinema’s frequent comparisons of herself to the late Sen. John McCain.

The resignations add to the mounting criticism of Sinema, who along with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has served as a major roadblock to Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan. That plan has since been whittled down, in part because of what critics describe as Sinema’s vague and unclear demands about what exactly she opposes in the president’s agenda, or why.

Some Arizona progressives are outraged that a senator they worked so hard to elect has seemingly abandoned their needs now that Democrats hold a slim majority in the U.S. Senate. Two political action committees are actively recruiting candidates to challenge Sinema in the Democratic primary, though she’s not up for reelection until 2024.

→  Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has made progressives more than mad. Some are readying for 2024

In a statement to the New York Times, which first reported the resignations, Sinema said it was “unfortunate that apparent disagreement on separate policy issues led to this decision.”

The veterans who resigned were five of 20 who’ve served on an advisory council to Sinema since 2019.

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.