VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — As a Navy
SEAL, Scott Taylor helped capture bomb makers in Iraq's seedy
neighborhoods in Ramadi.
He protected American convoys with
sniper missions. And on his last stint in Iraq, he fell 20 feet through
the floor of a dark, vacant building while searching for insurgents.
Taylor suffered broken ribs, a
concussion and a collapsed lung. More than a decade later, he's a
freshman congressman who has gotten a seat on the powerful House
Taylor, 37, is among a cadre of former
SEALs who've recently thrust themselves into public view through books,
media appearances and political campaigns.
2016 alone, at least four former SEALs campaigned for major office. Eric
Greitens became Missouri's new Republican governor and Montana Congressman
Ryan Zinke was elected to his second term and is now President Donald
Trump's pick for Interior Secretary.
Beck, a transgender former SEAL from Maryland, lost to House Minority Whip
Steny Hoyer in the Democratic primary.
leaving the military in 2005, Taylor became a real estate broker, earned
an international relations degree from Harvard University's Extension
School and served in the Virginia House of Delegates.
you look at Scott, he's a blend of a Navy SEAL and entrepreneur,"
said Glenn Davis, a fellow Republican who served with Taylor in the
Virginia Statehouse. "It's not surprising he walked in the door, set
his sights on Appropriations and executed a plan."
a Republican, has become increasingly political since leaving the SEALs,
drawing criticism from some in the military who say he's breached the
special force's traditional code of "quiet professionalism."
instance, Taylor helped produce a web video in 2012 that accused former
President Barack Obama of taking too much credit for the SEALs' successful
raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. He also wrote the 2015 book
"Trust Betrayed: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Selling Out
of America's National Security."
U.S. Navy lieutenant cites Taylor, among others, in his 2015 master's
thesis at the Naval Postgraduate School, "Navy SEALs gone wild:
publicity, fame, and the loss of the quiet professional."
Forrest Crowell wrote that Taylor is among "the core of what is
becoming a special interest pressure group that uses the credibility of
special operations to push partisan politics."
says politicians exploited the military — not him.
got involved in that specifically because I felt like our leaders were
releasing national security secrets ... to gain credit politically and get
re-elected," Taylor said.
entitled to his opinion and I respect it of course," Taylor said of
the thesis. "But there isn't a SEAL who leaves the military who
doesn't put it on his resume."
is also among a growing number of post-9/11 veterans in Congress,
according to Veterans Campaign, a nonprofit that supports vets entering
politics. Few lawmakers have as much at stake in Trump's promise to invest
deeply in the military.
represents a large swath of Hampton Roads, which is home to the world's
largest Navy base and various defense contractors, including shipyards
that build the nation's aircraft carriers. In recent years, the local
economy has suffered under budget caps, commonly known as sequestration,
that limit defense spending.
things like shipping, some of the companies aren't able to plan for a long
time," Taylor said. "They have to let some of the workforce go.
And some of those people leave because they've got to feed their
free up more defense funds, Taylor said he and other Republicans want to
reduce spending on some government assistance, such as food stamps, and
potentially cut outdated military programs.
more broadly, Taylor said he also supports raising the minimum age for
Social Security benefits for younger generations in order to keep the
Social Security idea doesn't sit well with Reed Ennis, 69, a retired
financial director who voted for Taylor. The Eastern Shore resident said
current generations are already scraping by on it.
said he voted for Taylor in part because of his experience in Iraq. And he
hopes it dissuades the congressman from supporting future wars, even if
they might help the local economy. He also shares Taylor's support of
Trump's order to suspend travelers from seven predominantly Muslim
SEAL Michael Nicosia first met Taylor in South America, where they trained
local militaries fighting the drug war. After he arrived, Taylor quickly
learned Spanish and helped translate for the team. He also focused on the
local troops' biggest challenges, which included a lack of decent gear.
was always asking questions that traditionally a lot of us weren't,"
leaving the military, Taylor provided security for an American oil company
in Yemen. He said that job often required him to negotiate various
disputes with armed tribesman.
should be easier, Taylor said, "because there's not AK-47s and