June 2nd, 2010
04:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Kirk continues to face allegations of dishonesty

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/02/art.kirk.gi.jpg.jpg caption="Kirk continues to face allegations he has misrepresented his two decades of Navy service."]Updated with Kirk Campaign response

(CNN) - When Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal admitted last month to making misstatements about his military service, it took at least a week for the Democratic Senate candidate to move past the story.

Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, who admitted over the weekend to falsely claiming he won the Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year Award, is now facing the same scrutiny. Kirk is the GOP nominee for the Senate seat held by President Barack Obama.

Kirk's acknowledgment about claiming he won the award for his service during the Kosovo conflict 10 years ago came after his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, raised questions about it with The Washington Post. Kirk highlighted the claim on both his congressional and campaign websites, and CSPAN footage from 2002 shows the Republican himself stating as much.

Kirk said in a blog post Sunday that his unit was instead the recipient of the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award, given by The National Military Intelligence Association, which is a professional group. Kirk characterized the mix-up as inadvertent and said it was a "disgrace" that Giannoulias was trying to make political hay out of it.

But over the past four days, Kirk has been barraged by a series of additional allegations of misstatements about his two decades of service in the Navy and a string of newspaper editorials that question his honesty.

In a Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Wednesday, the paper ticked through several other problematic Kirk claims that have since come to light, including a statement on a campaign web video that he "command[s] the war room of the Pentagon."

The Sun-Times noted that while Kirk does work weekends as a deputy intelligence director at the war room, the commander is ordinarily a one-star general. Though Kirk's campaign responded Wednesday that the Republican's post commands "the intelligence section of the alert center – the information 'war room.'"

The paper also said Kirk's congressional web site once touted the Republican's "combat service in Kosovo." However the paper says Kirk's unit did not serve in combat in Kosovo but was instead stationed in Aviano, Italy during the Allied-Force campaign. Kirk's campaign responded that the Republican did fly as an intelligence observer aboard an EC-130 special mission aircraft in support of air strikes over Belgrade and spent some time in Kosovo.

In addition, the Kirk campaign told the Post Wednesday that his congressional website incorrectly claimed he was "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom."

In fact, Kirk was stationed stateside during the Iraq War. The campaign told the Post it discovered the error in 2005, at which point the language was corrected from "in" to "during."

Meanwhile, Sun-Times correspondent Lynn Sweet reported Wednesday that Kirk was not upfront with how his office was first alerted to the mistaken award identification. Kirk told reporters the mischaracterization was discovered by a staff member review. However, a Navy official told the paper they alerted Kirk's office to the mistake after reporters started making inquiries about the matter. The Kirk campaign responded Wednesday the staff review was already under way when the Navy official informed the office about reporters' inquiries.

The Kirk campaign is strongly fighting back against allegations of dishonesty, circulating a statement to supporters Wednesday by Clay Fearnow - a retired Navy Captain and Kirk's commanding officer during Operation Allied Force.

"There are two things that have deeply troubled me...First, the idea that someone could make an honest mistake has become so foreign that the immediate assumption has become – you misrepresented or worse you lied. In Mark's case neither is factual," Fearnow said in the statement. "And second, that an honest mistake related to the identification of a military award is the same as pretending to be in Vietnam when you were not. This also doesn't apply to Mark Kirk."

"Mark Kirk is the finest intelligence officer I have ever served with – hands down," Fearnow also said.

It remains unclear what effect these reports will have on a Senate race that is already among the most bitterly-fought this cycle. Giannoulias is not without his own political baggage as the scion of banking family whose institution's failure last April cost the FDIC an estimated $394 million. Polls in Illinois conducted entirely before the Kirk allegations came to light showed the two candidates statistically tied.

Updated: 5:07 p.m.

Filed under: 2010 • Illinois • Mark Kirk
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. larry

    Oh, he corrected homself again. He did not captain the USS enterprise but he has documents to show that he is the great great grandfather of James Tiberious Kirk, captain of the starship enterpise.

    June 2, 2010 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Bubba

    Blumenthal was bad enough, but this is more like a deliberate pattern of deceptions than a mis-statement. Throw him back in the pond and fish out another one.

    June 2, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. larry

    If you had audio for the picture above youw ould be able to here Kirk say "Look, there's the starship enterprise now."

    June 2, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. Fed Up!

    I had intended to vote for Kirk.

    I believed that he would be a departure from the "business as usual" politicians with which we Illinosians have been saddled.

    Apparently Mr. Kirk is the same old, same old.

    I will find another for whom to cast my vote.

    June 2, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. Jeff

    i'd say his 4 or so separate lies are kind of a big deal. what a loser.

    June 2, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. Steph

    Remember when the Republicans attacked Hillary when she made the comment about arriving in Kosovo under gunfire attack...well, at least she was actually there. I'm sure those same people will be even more outraged to hear that Kirk said he was there when he was really in Italy. I understand the mistake, Italy can be a very frightening country, lol!

    CNN – KIRK IS A REPUBLICAN. If you feel you must always include political party, but do it correctly. Sheesh!

    June 2, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. wake up

    Here comes the Obama media...trying to get Obama -chicago crony Alexi into the scummy senate seat that dem governor blago tried to sell.

    When will America wake up, that Obama and left wing control the media. Kirk is a very moderate republican going against a family banker (which was shut down), with reputed loans to mobsters.

    June 2, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. Stacie

    What is wrong with all these people who can't seem to remember if they were or weren't in the heat of war. War experience isn't something that just slips your mind.

    June 2, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. LB in FL

    And the tea party crowd/GOP think Pres. Obama is a liar? Man. What a parrallel universe the right wing lives in. Kiss this GOP star bye-bye! Looks like Rubio may be next with the arrest and 6 felony charges on ol' Jim Greer down here in Florida. I've been saying for years that Greer was a corrupt son of a gun. Rubio is next! Tea for who?

    June 2, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. Francine

    I bet he also claims he "can leap over tall buildings in a single bound." LOL

    June 2, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. get real

    I was the person who put the first crack in the Berlin Wall...no wait, sorry about that, I was sitting in a college class in Iowa at the time. Honest mistake!

    June 2, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. OK for Republican

    HEY, Orrin Hatch – it's OK if you're a Republican to lie about your military record. You introduced a fine and/or six months jail time for misrepresenting military service – but does your proposal only cover Democrats?

    June 2, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. Realistic

    We are in trouble as a nation if this is the best we have to serve us. Oh my mistake, they don't serve us, they serve thier own self interest or the highest bidder. Honesty has fallen by the wastside..

    June 2, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, who admitted over the weekend to falsely claiming he won the Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year Award,

    Here we go:

    Look, you either got shot at in the humid, bug-filled jungles of Vietnam while surrounded by the Viet Cong or you didn't. Kinda hard to forget that experience.

    So Blumenthal LIED.

    Kirk lied too. Over, and over, and over on a whole bunch of delusional "I wanna be a hero, but I'm really a wimp" things.

    If I was a real war hero I'd 'clean their clock'.

    June 2, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  15. scott

    kirk got no room 4 error at all but the democrat n connecticut got alot more room 4 error bcause he had a huge led and kirk was only up by 3 points

    June 2, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Liberals can NEVER be trusted

    This sounds like Hillary Clinton dodging bullets in Bosnia while she and her daughter receive flowers from children on the tarmac. You don't think that Alexi is trying desparately to divert attention away from his bank fraud and his criminal ties to Tony Rezco? I'll take a retired US soldier any day over a punk fraudster. But the liberals would rather have one of their own crooks represent them. This is the badge of honor for a democrat, criminal activity or sexual indiscretions.

    June 2, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. Rich

    Now it comes to light that Kirk is a closet homosexual.

    June 2, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. Mark

    "The paper also said Kirk's congressional web site once touted the Democrat's "combat service in Kosovo." However Kirk's unit did not serve in combat in Kosovo. The unit was stationed in Aviano, Italy during the Allied-Force campaign".

    The point is that Kirk is a Republican, not a Democrat. Please fix this. It's very misleading to someone who doesn't read the entire article.

    June 2, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. Don

    Is Kirk a Rep. or a Dem? I think I know the answer but the first sentence of paragraph 8 above confuses me. Since I think it's the last reference to his party in this story, I have to wonder, was it intended?

    June 2, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  20. ak steve

    A Republican that lies. This is not called news... this is called typical.

    June 2, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  21. Pam

    Why do they ALL have to be liars? They just make it worse when they don't come clean right away when they are so busted.
    I would sooner trust a man who said "I was trying to beef up my resume and I am sorry I lied". But no...they just keep digging deeper.

    June 2, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  22. Dar

    I dont care if they are Repub's or Dems, if you are a politican YOU LIE, they cant help it, it's in their blood, some just dont lie as much and others lie good enough not to get caught.

    June 2, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  23. John Tighe

    Hatch was so eager to see Blumenthal tarred and feathered for what he said, but Kirk's statement's aren't a problem. Typical GOP hypocrisy.

    June 2, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  24. Rosslaw

    Why is Kirk wasting his time with a Senate run? He sounds like he has all the fictional qualifications to become the Republican Presidential nominee.

    June 2, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  25. Michelle Fitzhenry

    Interestingly, Congressman Kirk is also the ONLY Congress person from the state of Illinois that has not co sponsored HR 775, a bill that would allow military survivors to receive both military death benefits without one being "offset" – or subtracted from the other.
    I am a military widow from the state of Illinois and I have contacted his staff in D.C. as well as in Illinois. I have had no success in convincing his staff that this is important to those left behind when a military member dies in the line of duty or from a service connected cause.
    This legislation currently as 333 co sponsors, 75% of the members of the House have signed on in support and every member from Illinois except one – Congressman Kirk. I just don't get it.

    June 2, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
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