El Pasoans will be going to the polls tomorrow to cast votes in the runoff elections for the March primaries. One of the candidates is Sam Williams, who is running for United States Representative, District 16. Williams is running against Irene Armendariz-Jackson on the Republican ticket. The winner of the runoff election will face off against the Democrat and incumbent, Veronica Escobar, on November 3.
As readers may be aware, David Nevarez has agreed to become a contributor for the El Paso Politics. Previously, Nevarez published articles about Williams on our sister publication, El Paso News. (link) Nevarez’ articles about Williams have elicited questions about the allegations against Williams raised by Nevarez.
One of the allegations raised by David Nevarez is that Sam Williams has misrepresented his military service in public. As a veteran, Nevarez has challenged Williams’ statements that he was “attached” to a special forces unit.
In an email interview, Nevarez states that Sam Williams claims to hold a Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) but Nevarez argues that it is impossible for Williams to have a CIB because he did not meet the requirements for one according to the documentation Nevarez and others have collected. One such document is Williams’ DD214 that Williams originally posted on social media and then removed.
The El Paso Politics was provided a copy of a DD214 reportedly belonging to Williams by Chris Yost. The redactions were in the original copy of the document provided to this publication.
According to Nevarez, the U.S. military separation form does not demonstrate the necessary requirements to show that Williams was attached to a special forces unit or having received the Combat Infantry Badge.
The El Paso Politics also contacted Chris Yost for comments about the allegations. Yost stated that the reason he was challenging Williams’ assertions of having the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) is because “the sacrifices of all fallen Infantryman is being disrespected by those who attempt to claim valor of those whom have actually earned the coveted CIB”.
Yost adds that the timeline provided by Williams for his services “does not add up”.
Both Nevarez and Yost pointed to an image posted on social media by Williams in uniform.
Yost provided a copy of the image of Williams in uniform. According to both Nevarez and Williams, the uniform does not show the appropriate badges that one would expect for someone with a Combat Infantry Badge.
According to Yost, one badge is a Combat Action Badge, which would not be worn by someone who holds a Combat Infantry Badge. Yost says he knows about the badge because he served as an Infantryman. Yost adds that the uniform image “does not reflect his [Williams] CIB or a Special Forces Qualification tab.”
The El Paso Politics reached out to the Williams campaign for comment.
Luis Ruiz, media producer for Williams, initially stated that Williams will not address the allegations as he is considering taking legal action for the allegations. However, Ruiz followed up with additional information. After the El Paso Politics asked for clarification for some of the information provided by the Williams camp, Ruiz responded that Sam Williams would like a phone call to clarify the information provided.
Both Nevarez and Yost stated to the El Paso Politics that several complaints have been filed with Ft. Bragg about the allegations made against Williams. Yost said that he is one of the individuals who filed a complaint.
The El Paso Politics was unable to confirm how many other complaints have been filed.
In a text message forward to the El Paso Politics by Luis Ruiz, Sam Williams stated that he “never claimed to be SF,” presumably SF stands for special forces. Additionally, Williams, via the forwarded text message added that Williams did not claim “a CIB”.
However, Chris Yost told the El Paso Politics that he personally heard Williams state in a telephone conversation that he had a Combat Infantry Badge (CIB). Yost adds that in a recorded conversation, Williams claims that “he stood up 1st Special Forces Group in 1984 and went to SF [Special Forces] Qualifications Course in 1985.”
Yost provided a copy of the audio he recorded.
Audio provided by Chris Yost to the El Paso Politics
The El Paso Politics interviewed Sam Williams on July 13 at about 6:58 p.m. via telephone. Williams asked that we call him back an hour later to finish the interview as he had a prior commitment.
In the initial telephone interview, El Paso Politics asked Sam Williams if he had called himself a special forces operator. Williams responded that “Mr. Yost has been making this stuff up”.
El Paso Politics then asked Williams if he had ever said that he had a Combat Infantry Badge (CIB). Williams denied saying so, and added, “I’m getting ready to sue,” Yost, Nevarez and other individuals, “for slander”.
When asked about being “attached” to a special forces unit, Sam Williams responded that yes, had said he was “attached” to a special forces unit. El Paso Politics asked Williams what he meant by “attached”. Williams stated that he worked on a counter fire radar used to target mortar fire.
The Sam Williams Campaign also provided the El Paso Politics with a written statement.
In the statement, Williams blames the controversy on his opponent, Irene Armendariz-Jackson. Williams adds that he “has always maintained” that he was “attached to Special Forces missions”.
In his written statement, Williams alludes “El Paso News pulled down a bad article when it turned out that it was a different Sam Williams who had declared bankruptcy in Georgia.” The article in question was posted by David Nevarez in El Paso Politics’ sister site, El Paso News.
The editor of El Paso News is Miguel Juarez and the articles on that publication are managed by him. However, the article in question was not “pulled down” but rather updated to correct the record. In addition, Sam Williams himself admitted to filing for bankruptcy in 2000 in an El Paso Times article published on February 24, 2020.
In the follow up phone call to Williams at about 8:15 p.m., the El Paso Politics asked Sam Williams if there was anything he wanted to say in closing about the issue.
“Of all the guys that are bashing me,” he [Williams] is the only one who has provided his records to the public, said Williams. Williams asked, “why are they going after my service?” Williams closed by stating that he is “100% service-connected disabled,” and that is the reason he is able to run for office.