Web Video Surfaces of False Military Claim by U.S. Senate Candidate Kirk

Another video featuring U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk of Illinois making false claims of being the U.S. Navy’s intelligence officer of the year surfaced in his campaign for a seat once held by President Barack Obama.

Kirk, a five-term Republican congressman and Navy reservist from Chicago’s northern suburbs, said last week that the 1999 award was actually given to an ad-hoc intelligence team he created and ran, not to him individually.

A Web video promoting his Senate campaign made the intelligence-officer-of-the-year assertion as an image of Kirk, 50, in a fighter jet is shown. Previously, the only reported video of Kirk making the claim was on C-SPAN during a 2002 congressional hearing.

“It’s fitting that a campaign video designed to introduce Congressman Mark Kirk to the people of Illinois includes prominent mention of an award he didn’t receive,” said Matt McGrath, a spokesman for Alexi Giannoulias, the Democrat competing for the seat. “He is a typical Washington politician who will say anything for political gain.”

The misstatement about the award was first reported by the Washington Post on May 29. The Kirk campaign video is archived on the YouTube video service on the Internet.

Removed From Site

Eric Elk, a Kirk spokesman, said efforts are being made to correct campaign materials that contain the reference. He said the ad was removed from the campaign’s Web site last week.

“We have tried to make sure that we are checking everything,” he said. “What we can control, we have tried to take the right steps.”

Over the Memorial Day weekend -- one devoted to honoring military service -- Giannoulias and Kirk fought over the character issue in a race that could help determine control of the Senate.

The correction by Kirk, who has made his military service a central part of his campaign, comes as candidates face greater scrutiny about such claims following misstatements by Democrat Richard Blumenthal, a U.S. Senate candidate in Connecticut, about service in Vietnam.

“My corrected biography accurately shows I received the United States Navy Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award,” Kirk said in a May 30 statement. “I will not let my 21 years of service in uniform be denigrated by Alexi Giannoulias, a man who chose not to serve.”

Kirk also called Giannoulias, 34, a “failed mob banker,” a reference to a family bank that made loans to people with criminal records that was closed by regulators in April.

The seat Kirk and Giannoulias are fighting for is now held by Senator Roland Burris, a Democrat who was appointed to finish the term Obama won in 2004. Burris isn’t seeking a full term.

To contact the reporter on this story: John McCormick in Washington at jmccormick16@bloomberg.net.

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