* The Nitpicker has been a prime behind the scenes player in finding some of Mark Kirk’s military embellishments. And now the blogger appears to have yet another scoop by obtaining a December 18, 2009 Department of Defense “Exception to Policy” memo regarding Kirk’s then upcoming active duty tour in Afghanistan. Kirk needed a waiver because as a member of Congress he wasn’t supposed to be sent to combat areas.
Click here to read the full memo from Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Gail McGinn. Pay special attention to this last paragraph and the highlighted text…
As a candidate for the vacant Senate seat in Illinois, Commander Kirk must complete the appropriate acknowledgment of limitations required for all candidates on active duty (DoDD 1344.10, paragraph 4.3.5.). Ordinarily this acknowledgment must be completed within 15 days of entering active duty. Because of the short period of active duty and concerns arising from his partisan political activities during his last two tours of active duty, Commander Kirk must complete this form prior to his entry on active duty. [Emphasis added]
Partisan political activities during two tours of active duty? Yikes.
The Nitpicker thinks one of those prohibited activities mentioned in the memo might be that Twitter escapade I wrote about last July. Kirk appeared to be posting to his campaign Twitter page while on duty at the National Military Command Center. At the time, the campaign claimed that Kirk did not post while on duty and implied that a staffer may have posted the Tweet. Kirk said later that he would not do it again.
Whatever the case, we are not talking about a little thing…
And those violations are, in fact, a prosecutable offense. As the regulation states, “Violations of paragraphs 4.1. through 4.5. of this Directive by persons subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice are punishable under Article 92, ‘Failure to Obey Order or Regulation…’” A violation of Article 92 is punishable by up to two years of confinement and a dishonorable discharge. [Emphasis added.]
Also, if you scroll down to pages four and five of the pdf file, you’ll see Kirk’s response, where he swore to play by all the rules. I checked with the Kirk campaign and they’re still formulating a response. I read this post to them before I published it. I’ll post the response when I get it.
*** UPDATE *** The Kirk campaign responds…
Statement by Spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski:
“Mark Kirk has served our nation in the U.S. Navy for two decades and has done so honorably. The fact is, Congressman Kirk never violated Defense Department policies. He has misspoken about his record, acknowledged it and apologized. Mark Kirk left for Afghanistan and he did not engage in political activities - even in the face of radio commercials accusing him of being gay. The memorandum in question is simply off the mark. Furthermore, this raises grave concerns and questions about who gained access to Kirk’s confidential records. The document in question should be viewed for what it is - a baseless political ploy by partisans bent on defending a U.S. Senate seat at any cost.
“Going forward, we will be submitting a Freedom of Information Act request for all correspondence between Administration officials and Democratic campaigns or political operatives regarding Mr. Kirk’s personal military records. We will not stand by and allow partisan attacks invalidate two decades of military service, both here and overseas.”
Below find a timeline related to both of Mr. Kirk’s deployments to Afghanistan:
1. Governor Blagojevich was arrested morning of December 9, 2008 for the potential sale of the Obama Senate seat.
2. On December 10, Senator Durbin raised the issue of a special election for the senate, instead of a governor’s pick.
3. That day, the Illinois media began calling all Illinois congressmen and other figures asking if they could run. Congressman Kirk was doing pre-deployment training as a reservist in Springfield, Virginia, each day, then working in his congressional office each night. DoD rules allow congressmen to perform duties incident to their congressional office while on reserve duty. Kirk gave interviews with WIND, WLS, WFLD, MSNBC. He mainly commented on the arrest of the Illinois governor and when asked, said he would not rule out a run.
4. On December 11, Congressman Kirk was interviewed by Politico, Fox National TV, WLS and WFLD.
5. CDR Kirk then went dark and departed the United States on the night of December 13, 2008 for Afghanistan. He served for two weeks in Afghanistan and did not give interviews.
6. Hearing of the new discussion of a potential Senate special election in Illinois, the Navy tracked Kirk down and reminded him not to give interviews while deployed in Afghanistan. Kirk said he had not declared a candidacy and would not speak with the press.
7. Senator Durbin changed his mind and no special election was held. Senator Burris was appointed to replace Senator Obama.
8. When CDR Kirk deployed a second time, the Obama administration changed the original waiver to reference the Navy call to Kirk. Kirk also talked to SECDEF CoS Rangel and confirmed no public statements would be made from Afghanistan, like the first time.
9. CDR Kirk served in Afghanistan for two weeks a second time in December 2009 and January of 2010. During that service, a Kirk GOP political opponent, Andy Martin, accused Kirk of being gay and bought $60,000 of radio time to spread this message. Kirk took no action, gave no interviews and returned to the US. From his home in Illinois, Kirk called CoS Rangel and asked for permission to begin public speaking. Rangel approved and Kirk delivered his first speech in three weeks the following day.
10. The regulations are clear on this issue: please see paragraph 4.4 and subparagraph 4.1.2:
DOD Directive Number 1344.10 of February 19, 2008 is entitled “Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces.” It can be found here: http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/134410p.pdf
Paragraph 4.4 is entitled “Holding and Exercising the functions of a U.S. Government civil Office Attained by Election or Appointment.” Under Paragraph 4.4.3.,”A…Reserve Component member on active duty under…[an[ order to active duty for 270 days or fewer, may hold and exercise the functions of a civil office provided there is no interference with the performance of military duty.” Subparagraph 4.4.5 states that such officeholders on active duty are still subject to the list of prohibitions contain in subparagraph 4.1.2.
Subparagraph 4.1.2 contains a list of prohibited activities among them not participating in any radio, television, or other program or group discussions “as an advocate for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.” (Subparagraph 188.8.131.52). The regulation does not prohibit all participation, just participation that is as an advocate for or against a party, candidate or cause. Commenting on news events while in civilian clothes and not onboard a military installation should not give rise to a violation even if the Reserve component member is on active duty.
Paragraph 4.6.4 identifies DoDI 1344.10 as a lawful general regulation. This is required, under military law, if the regulation is intended to be punitive, i.e., military members can be prosecuted for violations. thus, the reference to article 92 of the Uniform code of Military Justice. Of course, one cannot be punished under the UCMJ unless found guilty of each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. the Deputy secretary’s memo is not intended to adjudicate any previous issues and her use of the word “concerns” does not amount to a finding that any law was broken.
[ *** End of Update *** ]
* Meanwhile, the AP reports that Treasurer Giannoulias embellished his record…
A banking group says Democrat Alexi Giannoulias didn’t serve on its board of directors like he’s claimed on his Senate campaign website.
The Community Bankers Association of Illinois said Wednesday that Giannoulias served on its Committee on Legislation and Regulation.
Attention is being paid to candidates’ claims after Giannoulias’ Republican opponent, Congressman Mark Kirk, recently acknowledged embellishing his military record.
Giannoulias’ Senate website has been changed to match his official Illinois treasurer’s website, which included committee service. A campaign spokesman calls it a simple mistake.
…Adding… Some of you are not reading that AP story very well, and it may be my fault for the way I introduced it. His state website had the facts right, but his campaign site had it wrong. So, it’s not a total embellishment.