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Mark Kirk Admits Military Award Claim Was Inaccurate

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Mark Kirk Admits Military Award Claim Was Inaccurate
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Just when everything was going Kirk's way -- Giannoulias' bank fails, Giannoulias trailing in polls, Giannoulias raising less cash -- Mark Kirk goes and pulls a Richard Blumenthal.

Kirk, a Navy reservist, inaccurately claimed he received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award for his service during NATO's conflict with Serbia in the late 1990s. (you can find the claim scattered all over the web...here's the "misstatement" on Kirk's eVoter profile, which the Kirk campaign provided to them.)

Kirk admitted the inaccuracy after the Washington Post started looking into the award. The Post was tipped off by Giannoulias' campaign -- who are big believers in making their own luck, apparently.

From Kirk's blog:

Upon a recent review of my records, I found that an award listed in my official biography was misidentified as “Intelligence Officer of the Year.” In fact, as noted in my Fitness Report, I was the “recipient of the Rufus Taylor Intelligence Unit of the Year award for outstanding support provided during Operation Allied Force.” It was one of the honors of my life to lead the Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing Aviano, Italy – and I am very proud of this award. My official biography will reflect this updated information.

The award was misstated on Kirk's official biography and, according to the Post, he also publicly misstated the award during a House committee hearing in 2002.

The Kirk campaign has done a good job of scrubbing the misstatement from most sites. But. If you check the cached version of his House biography page to the current version you can see the difference.

On the face of it, Kirk has so many awards and honors -- and serves so publicly in the reserves, and has such an obvious grasp of geopolitical issues -- that it's quite possible the mistake was honest. Except the "Navy Intelligence Office of the Year" award is a big, big honor. It goes to one recipient per year.

And this isn't the first time Kirk's been scrutinized for embellishing his service. As Politico's Ben Smith points out, Kirk's claim that he "commands the war room in the Pentagon" is at best self-puffery and at worst an intentional misstatement.

Kirk truly is proud of his service -- you can tell every time he speaks about it. But this misstatement lends to a growing skepticism of his role and duties. And, thanks to Richard Blumenthal, odds are voters will think twice about Kirk's boasts now.

At the very least, this gives the Giannoulias campaign a better rejoinder when Kirk decries Broadway's connection to crooks, and implies Alexi made bad loans.

But man. I bet the Giannoulias camp wishes the Post had waited till Tuesday to break this.

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