May 31st, 2010
10:13 AM ET
13 years ago

Kirk admits mischaracterizing military record

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The Republican vying for President Barack Obama's former Senate seat admits he has previously mischaracterized an aspect of his lengthy service in the United States Navy."](CNN) – The Republican vying for President Barack Obama's former Senate seat admitted he has previously mischaracterized an aspect of his lengthy service in the United States Navy.

The admission Sunday came after Kirk's opponent in the divisive Senate race, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, raised questions with the Washington Post about the Intelligence Officer of the Year Award Kirk claimed to have received during his service in the Kosovo conflict 10 years ago.

In a post on his blog Sunday, Kirk said he and his staff discovered last week that they had inadvertently misidentified the award in his official biography and on other occasions. Kirk was instead issued the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award – an honor Kirk said is as distinguished as that of Intelligence Officer of the Year.

The National Military Intelligence Association, a professional group, issued Kirk and each member of his unit the award for "exceptional achievements of an outstanding Naval Intelligence career professional."

"My corrected biography accurately shows I received the United States Navy Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award – as the leader of an ad-hoc intelligence effort supporting four EA-6B Prowler electronic attack squadrons as part of Operation Allied Force – instead of Intelligence Officer of the Year. I accepted the Taylor Intelligence Award (named after the head of Navy intelligence in World War II) as the leader of an intelligence section that I assembled and led. There is no hierarchy between these awards as the Taylor Intelligence Award is equally distinguished," Kirk said.

Kirk has repeatedly referenced his more-than two decades of service in the Navy Reserves during the course of his Senate campaign, and the mistaken award appeared in both Kirk's congressional and campaign websites.

Giannoulias, the Illinois state treasurer, seized on the mischaracterization, calling the flap the latest proof Kirk is a "typical Washington politician."

But in his blog post Sunday, Kirk took aim at Giannoulias for raising questions about his service and called the attack a "disgrace."

"Our state and nation face serious problems – and having a veteran's military record challenged by a politician who never served and was anointed by the media as a 'mob banker' is absurd," Kirk wrote in reference to the fact the bank Giannoulias' family owned collapsed earlier this year costing the FDIC over $300 million.

It remains unclear what effect Kirk's admission may have on a Senate race that is already among the most bitterly-fought this cycle. The disclosure comes less than two weeks after Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal apologized for repeatedly suggesting he served in Vietnam when in fact he served in the Marine Corps Reserves and was stationed stateside. But a Quinnipiac survey released shortly after Blumenthal's apology indicated the Connecticut Democrat had lost little support following his admission.

Meanwhile, recent polls in Illinois show the race is a dead heat.

Filed under: 2010 • Alexi Giannoulias • Illinois • Mark Kirk • Popular Posts
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. ebgill

    Kirk did not mischaracterize an award. He simply lied, got caught and took cover. For almost a decade, Kirk claimed a specific high level individual award from the Navy that he did not earn. Then, only when he got caught, did he claim the Rufus Taylor Award. The RTA is made by the National Military Intelligence Association, a 501(c)(6) that is a professional association dedicated to facilitating the connection between the military and private contractors. It is not the Navy or even a branch of the Navy. It's a private group. Then, Kirk didn't even win the award. It was awarded to an Air Wing of which Kirk was a member of only one Squadron. Kirk's Squadron was a part of 150 missions of the Air Wing's over 700 missions and that even assumes Kirk was instrumental in those 150. What this means is that Kirk did not misspeak. Kirk fabricated an award. Then, when he got caught he scrambled to find something he could claim. His only possible substitute award was the RTA of which, at best, he was only a small part.

    May 31, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. annie s

    Sorry to say the Republicans don't own this issue – ALL politicians seem to play fast and loose with the truth. Regardless, though, I beseech all Illinois voters not to send a Republican to Washington! We need to follow through on the President's ambitious agenda if America is to stay viable in the 21st century.

    May 31, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. TangledThorns

    This is very very minor when compared to Blumenthal's lies. Also, I had no idea that Kirk was in the military to begin with so he is more of outstanding citizen than Giannoulias will ever be.

    May 31, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  4. Da Professor

    OH MY GOODNESS! Another Republican "misstating" something? Wow! Hardly worth mentioning an everyday occurance. Just tune into the Fox Channel and listen to their "misstatements". Some would call these "misstatements" outright lies.

    May 31, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. dan

    Wow where is FoxNews ,they have not even mentioned this story on their network yet,but they was running the Blumenthal story nonstop,so much for fair in balance.

    May 31, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  6. JonDie

    So what is the difference between "mischaracterized" and "lied?" Other than "lied" is a four-letter word?

    May 31, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  7. DENNA

    So it isn't only Democrats who do this? Thanks Mark Kirk for reminding your party that they aren't perfect either. Now can we get on with the real issues?

    May 31, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    It will be interesting to see how the GOP explains this, especially in light of what AG Blumenthal did. Unfortunately, in an era where inflating a resume is commonplace, this practice will not result in any real repurcussions, except to inflame the side that would never have voted for this individual to begin with. However, I do want to know if he will promote chickens or pork bellies as a means of paying for medical services: I'm freezing both just in case the insurance companies decide to accept this old-fashioned way of paying the doctor.

    May 31, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. farmertx

    Strange how these fellows have all the qualifications to be a leader, yet can't manage their own lives.
    Oops, I misspoke, rather than I flat out lied to you. Or oops, my staff misidentified the award ... and I was too dumb to catch it rather than, Hey we lied; but it sure sounded good.
    Then to turn the table and try to make himself out a 'warrior' being smeared by a non-combatant. Being smeared is when someone lies about you. Lying about yourself is just flat wrong.
    Ask a real soldier what kind of award Intel weenies should get. There are rare exceptions to that last statement, but I seriously doubt this yo-yo is one of them.

    May 31, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. El Gordo

    I guess I'll have to correct my resume too. I've been claiming that I was the valedictorian at Harvard when actually I graduated from the local community college with a C average.

    However, I consider the two accomplishments to be of equal quality.

    May 31, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  11. indy

    So he did serve in the Navy and did receive an award for work in Kosovo. I consider this very minor and no comparison to saying you served in Viet Nam yet never left the states.

    May 31, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. cspurgeon

    Liars for both parties..Wow and we wonder why the country appears in trouble.

    May 31, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. DC Johnny

    Please tell me this isn't the best the Democrats can do to even the score on the Blumenthal mistake. Blumenthal flat out lied about ever serving his country in battle.

    Kirk is a hero, and more importantly, always was a hero. God bless him.

    May 31, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. Jeff Spangler

    He either deliberately misrepresented or else was grossly negligent in allowing the inaccurate information to be released and remain uncorrected until his opponent raised the issue. Either way, he's not fit for a position of trust and confidence, even in the ethically challenged Congress. A man of integrity would apologize and withdraw.

    May 31, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  15. Brenda

    Move along--nothing to see here folks--even though the Democrat and CNN are trying to make it appear as if there is.

    This is NOT the same situation as Blumenthal-even though CNN is trying to make it appear as if it is.

    Kirk was actually in the militarty and actually served where he said that he served.

    The only thing that Kirk got wrong-–was the "name" of the award. He definitely received the award, he just got the name wrong.

    May 31, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  16. Bill from GA

    I don't really know, but it sounds like if you claimed you got the Heisman Trophy when your team won the championship. If only one team can get the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award, that might be a fair comparison.

    May 31, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  17. Mariann Pepitone

    Kirk should not drop out of the race. Many politicians have made mistakes in their biography or other istories. It is not a crime to make a mistake. His democrat opponent is running behind and now is trying to get Kirk to drop out of the race. This country desperately needs changes and Obama cannot make those changes. He is confused on a lot of issues and the deficit if growing. We need the republicans back in the senate and the house.

    May 31, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |