Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign released a campaign ad Monday previewing Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s May 12 court hearing related to a civil lawsuit filed against the congresswoman by former employees in the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
Duckworth beat out former Urban League President and CEO Andrea Zopp and state Sen. Napoleon Harris in March’s Democratic primary for Kirk’s Senate seat.
The complaint against Duckworth alleges workplace retaliation. Kirk’s ad shuffles through a series of news reports detailing Duckworth’s “ethics violations.”
Duckworth’s campaign rebuffed the attack.
“This is just another dishonest attack from a desperate campaign, and really cements Mark Kirk’s status as a Trump-style Republican,” Duckworth spokesman Matt McGrath said in a statement. “Tammy Duckworth spent 23 years defending this country in the National Guard, and has made working on behalf of Veterans her life’s work, with tangible results.’
There is no indication that Duckworth will attend Thursday’s hearing. She will instead be in Washington, D.C. that day to attend a fundraiser hosted by Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.
"It is utterly incomprehensible that on the exact same day of a scheduled court hearing in Illinois for charges that Duckworth silenced whistleblowers for exposing poor care to veterans, Duckworth will actually be in D.C. courting lobbyists and special interests at a $1,000 plate breakfast with Harry Reid,” Kirk spokesman Kevin Artl said in a statement. “Whether it was defending Blagojevich or dining with Harry Reid, one thing is certain for Duckworth--party comes first, Illinois comes second."
According to the lawsuit, Christine Butler claims she was fired for insubordination after filing complaints against her boss, the facility's director. After later meeting with Duckworth, the termination was reversed within days.
Denise Goins claims that her complaints about the same supervisor led to an unfavorable performance review after initially being ignored. Goins claims the performance review prevented her from receiving a raise. In addition to this, she claims Duckworth told her to "do your job and keep your mouth shut" during a meeting.
Butler and Goins are seeking compensatory damages of at least $50,000, as well as other financial penalties.
Duckworth, who lost her legs piloting a helicopter in Iraq, led Illinois’ VA from 2006 until 2009. She subsequently served as Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009 to 2011.
McGrath further challenged Kirk's credibility in the wake of the ad, calling into question his military service.
"Mark Kirk, on the other hand, claimed to have served in combat in Iraq when he never did, and has been caught lying about his military record at least 10 times," he said. "Given that record of deceit, it's no surprise he's not telling the truth about Tammy, and Illinois voters know better than to believe these Swift Boat-style attacks."
According to a recent poll, Kirk is trailing Duckworth by three points.