Republican senators are questioning the Navy’s use of a drag queen to attract potential recruits on TikTok.
The letter appears to be in response to Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley’s “digital ambassador” selection by the Navy, which is a pilot program to help attract new recruits. Kelley goes by the stage name “Harpy Daniels” and also identifies as non-binary.
A Navy spokesperson told Fox News Digital that Kelley participated in the digital ambassador initiative from October 2022 to March 2023, which was “designed to explore the digital environment to reach a wide range of potential candidates.”
The spokesperson said that the Navy implemented the initiative because it’s facing “the most challenging recruiting environment it has faced since the start of the all-volunteer force.”
Joshua Kelley, a 24-year-old U.S. Navy Yeoman 2nd Class, performs as ‘Harpy Daniels’ for sailors aboard the carrier USS Ronald Reagan. (MC3 Charles J. Scudella III/Navy)
A total of 14 Republicans signed the Wednesday letter to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, including Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla; Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Ted Cruz. R-Texas; and several others.
Commenting on Kelley’s “digital ambassador” selection, the senators asked “does the Navy endorse drag shows?”
“Where does the Navy draw the line on promotion of the personal activities of its influencers? Would the Navy enlist burlesque or exotic dancers to reach possible recruits?” the senators asked.
The Republican senators further added that “such activity is not appropriate for promotion in a professional workplace or the United States military.”
In the letter, the senators also criticized the Navy for promoting TikTok through the program.
Navy Yeoman 2nd Class Joshua Kelley, who goes by the stage name “Harpy Daniels,” announced back in November 2022 that he was the Navy’s “Digital Ambassador.” (Screenshot/ Harpy Daniels/ TikTok)
“As you know, Congress passed the No TikTok on Government Devices Act, which President Biden signed into law on December 29, 2022. This is in response to legitimate concerns that China could use its legal and regulatory powers to obtain private user data or to push misinformation or narratives favoring the Chinese Communist Party,” the Republican senators wrote. “The bottom line is that the Navy should not be promoting use of TikTok, an app banned on Department devices, on the personal devices of servicemembers or its ‘ambassadors,’” the senators wrote.
The senators also asked Del Toro several questions about the “digital ambassador” program.
Kelley has made posts on Instagram about the Navy’s “digital ambassador” program.
The USS Rafael Peralta, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the US Navy, arrives into Sydney Harbour on July 10, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
“From joining to 2016 and being able to share my drag experience on my off time with my fellow sailors has been a blessing,” Kelley wrote. “This experience has brought me so much strength, courage and ambition to continue being an advocate and representation of queer sailors!”
“Thank you to the Navy for giving me this opportunity! I don’t speak for the Navy but simply sharing my experience in the Navy! Hooyah, and let’s go Slay!” Kelley added.
Fox News’ Jeffrey Clark contributed to this report.