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Tilting at Windmills

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June 1, 2010

WOULD HATCH PROVISION PUNISH KIRK'S DECEPTIONS?.... Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, has run into a little trouble recently about "embellishments" in his military record. One interesting angle to this is whether Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wants to punish him for it.

If you're just joining us, Kirk, a U.S. Naval Reserve officer, really has served honorably, but he's also made several claims about his service record that proved to be false. First, Kirk claimed to be "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom." That turned out to be untrue -- Kirk served during the conflict, not in it. Second, Kirk claimed to "command the war room in the Pentagon," which also turned out to be untrue. Over the weekend we learned that Kirk repeatedly claimed to have received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award, which was also wildly misleading.

This comes on the heels of Hatch's proposal to make it a crime for someone to knowingly make "a fraudulent statement or representation" regarding his or her record of military service "for the purposes of gaining recognition, honorarium, official office, or other position of authority, employment or other benefit."

The point, it seemed, was Hatch targeting Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), who misspoke about his service record in a speech eight years ago.

After Hatch unveiled his effort, I asked whether Hatch really wants to subject his GOP allies to a fine and possible jail time? We now have an answer.

Does [Hatch's] bill apply to Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in the same way it applied to the original target -- Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D)? Would Kirk have committed a crime?

The answer, according to Hatch's office, is no.

"The amendment's intent is clear - it would make lying about serving in active duty in the military for the purposes of career advancement a misdemeanor," Hatch spokesman Antonia Ferrier said.

Well, it's not that clear. Kirk repeatedly made false claims about his service record, as part of his pitch to voters about his qualifications. Did he make "a fraudulent statement" for the purposes of gaining official office? It's hardly a stretch to make that case.

I think Hatch meant to say that the law would only apply to Democrats, and forgot to include the language in his proposal. An innocent oversight, I'm sure.

For his part, Mark Kirk has not apologized for his falsehoods. Over the weekend, in an attempt at contrition, the Republican told reporters, "When you run for the Senate, you need to begin to talk about your life with absolute precision."

Apparently, when you run for the House, sloppiness and falsehoods are fine?

Steve Benen 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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Comments

I wonder how much taxpayer money was spent by Hatch on this? There are all kinds of pressing issues in this country right now, and none of them remotely relate to this.

Why not "lying about the rationale behind any legislation undertaken for the purposes of political maneuvering a misdemeanor"? Or, make that a felony?

Posted by: terraformer on June 1, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Also very importantly, Hatch's amendment goes after those who lie about their active duty service, so Kirk, as a reservist, is excluded. And he's a Republican.

Posted by: BrianB on June 1, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

WTF? He should go home in disgrace.

I did note from the links that the act of "Blumenthaling" has now entered the lexicon.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 1, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's clear that the only real purpose of Hatch's amendment was to embarrass Blumenthal and get people talking about him more, so if it gets people talking about Republicans who have lied about their service records, it's already failed. Yay!

Posted by: Redshift on June 1, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Hatch said this about his amendment: "My amendment would add to this existing statute, making false statements regarding participation in combat operations."

Kirk said: "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom."

Was Operation Iraqi Freedom "combat operations"?

Er, I think it was.

Posted by: flyonthewall on June 1, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

What would really make sense would be a law to make it a crime for someone to knowingly make "a fraudulent statement or representation" regarding established economic, social and scientific fact and stated policy "for the purposes of gaining recognition, honorarium, official office, or other position of authority, employment or other benefit." That would really set the cat among the pigeons, for the benefit of everyone.

Posted by: Goldilocks on June 1, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I love your blog. You frame things with enough wit, insight and truth. This paragraph made me laugh "I think Hatch meant to say that the law would only apply to Democrats, and forgot to include the language in his proposal. An innocent oversight, I'm sure."

I learn and leave thinking about a particular angle of a story each time I visit. Thanks for believing in facts.

Posted by: Missyjam on June 1, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Over the weekend we learned that Kirk repeatedly claimed to have received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award, which was also wildly misleading.

Yeah, if you consider that no such award actually exists, it is "wildly misleading", or as others might say, "a complete lie".
Kirk's pattern of behavior appears to be even worse than Blumenthal's, but at least Blumenthal apologized. Kirk's going with the "mistakes were made" response.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on June 1, 2010 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

How unwise of Hatch, given how historically the preponderance of inflating, fantasizing or outright lying about one's military service has been by Republicans, from Joe McCarthy to Kirk. TPM has a great list.

Posted by: jjm on June 1, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

His 'only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom, nee Operation Iraqi Liberation' (look at what that spells; seriously, that was BushCo's original name for the war) is also patently untrue: US Rep. Pat Murphy is the first veteran of that war to serve in Congress.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on June 1, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Benin misses a far more significant question. The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 CURRENTLY makes it illegal to claim to have received a military honor that a person did not receive, and that is true whether the claim is written or oral. So Kirk may have already violated current law.

I say may because Intelligence Officer of the Year is not a real award, and I'm not clear if the Stolen Valor act can prosecute the claim of a fake award, although it could definately apply to claims of a Purple Heart, etc.

Posted by: philogratis on June 1, 2010 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Was Operation Iraqi Freedom "combat operations"?

Yes, for other people, but Kirk served stateside and not in combat, just like Blumenthal. He didn't get a Combat Action Ribbon.

Posted by: Blake on June 1, 2010 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

How about making it illegal to make false or misleading statements in Congress? Wouldn't that be a concept! You Lie, you lose your vote for a certain period of time.

Posted by: st john on June 1, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

what about Graham? he has claimed to be a veteran of desert storm. Reagan probably really believed he had liberated Auschwitz so he shouldn't count.
Plus he's dead

Posted by: gus on June 1, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Call it the Borin' Hack 2010 IOKIYAR Act.

Posted by: agio on June 1, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, It wouldn't apply to his award, but it should apply to his claim to service in Iraqi Freedom.

http://bit.ly/94pW98

Posted by: nitpicker on June 1, 2010 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Classic, CLASSIC Rethuglican "that's different" response.

Posted by: Sarah Palin IS the Antichrist on June 2, 2010 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

"Hatch said this about his amendment: "My amendment would add to this existing statute, making false statements regarding participation in combat operations."

Um ... Hatch? I don't think Blumenthal EVER said he was in combat. He said he was in Viet Nam, but my bro-in-law actually WAS there without ever being in combat.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on June 2, 2010 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

"...from Joe McCarthy to Kirk. "

Don't forget St. Ronnie!

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 2, 2010 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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