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This just in… Kirk admits to at least two more embellishments - Caught on video - “I simply misremembered it wrong”

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* 5:29 pm - Mark Kirk has more problems. He spoke to both the Tribune and Sun-Times editorial boards today and may not have come off too well. The Tribune got its story out first

In a new disclosure, Kirk acknowledged that his campaign’s promotion of him coming under fire while flying aboard an intelligence reconnaissance plane in Iraq may not be correct because there is no record of whether his aircraft was being fired upon.

Oh, man, that’s not good at all.


Kirk also acknowledged a constituent letter sent out by his North Shore congressional district office last year that described him as a member of Operation Desert Storm, though he did not participate in that effort.

“I am sorry, absolutely,” Kirk said. “You should speak with utter precision. You should stand on the documented military record. In public discourse, for high office, you should make sure that there is a degree of complete rigorous precession.”

More on that one from Daily Kos, which broke the story earlier today. Kirk wrote this in a constituent letter

As you may know, I am a veteran of the Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom missions.

Trouble is, he worked at the Office of Naval Intelligence just outside DC during Desert Storm. Oops.

I’ll post the Sun-Times stuff when it goes online. From the paper’s Twitter page

So, Mark Kirk happened by. He wouldn’t cop to “embellishment.” He claimed “mistakes” in translating precise military records into civilian.

Rep. Mark Kirk on his misstatement: “I misremembered,” “was distracted by Congressional campaign”

Um, huh?

* While Kirk was meeting with those editorial boards, his campaign appeared to dump a bit of oppo on Alexi Giannoulias

Giannoulias is currently the state treasurer of Illinois. And, according to his official website, “He founded and chairs the AG Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that donates money to treat child-related illnesses, curb poverty and assist disaster relief organizations.”

The problem is, the charity no longer exists. According to the AG Foundation’s tax return, “The organization was in existence only for the two-year period from 2005 to 2006.”

Giannoulias has since changed his website to “chaired” from “chairs” and “donated” from “donates.”

*** UPDATE - 5:51 pm *** The Tribune story made it sound like it was Kirk’s campaign that made the claim about him coming under fire over Iraq. Turns out, Kirk himself made the claim during a House floor debate. Watch

The quote…

“The last time I was in Iraq I was in uniform flying at 20,000 feet, and the Iraqi air defense network was shooting at us.”


*** UPDATE - 8:40 pm *** Sun-Times

“I simply misremembered it wrong,” Rep. Mark Kirk told the Sun-Times Thursday.

The North Shore Republican was trying to explain how he could have reported on his resume for a decade that he had been awarded the “Intelligence Officer of the Year” when he actually was describing a group medal awarded to his Naval unit as a whole.

Over and over again, Kirk tried to explain how tumultuous his life was when he got the award — he just won a primary election against 10 opponents and now was facing a tough general election for his first term in Congress.

“I swung by D.C. and picked up this award, but I was no longer focused on the award,” Kirk said.

“I apologize to you and your readers,” Kirk said several times.



Watch live streaming video from chicagosuntimeslive at

posted by Rich Miller
Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 5:35 pm


  1. “Kirk acknowledged that his campaign’s promotion of him coming under fire while flying aboard an intelligence reconnaissance plane in Iraq may not be correct because there is no record of whether his aircraft was being fired upon.”

    Mark need not worry — he’ll come under plenty of fire now.

    – MrJM

    Comment by MrJM Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 5:41 pm

  2. If this tempers the Tribune’s coverage of Kirk, will it cause him problems with collar-county Democrats? That’s a concern not only for the Kirk campaign, but the Brady campaign as well. Kirk is essentially the standard-bearer for the GOP in the Chicago area this cycle, and he has a generally good reputation within it.

    It’s also possible all this coming out now is good timing, as it may blow over before autumn. I’d simply cop to trying to inflate my record, establish the real accomplishments within, and then move on. Doing that would probably defuse the issue long before anyone picks up a ballot.

    Comment by Boone Logan Square Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 5:47 pm

  3. ===this coming out now is good timing===

    It also gets buried under the first day of the Blagojevich trial.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 5:48 pm

  4. I’m so glad it’s not a pattern of false statements as some commenters have argued.

    Comment by Chicago Cynic Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 5:53 pm

  5. This guy has a serious, serious problem with the truth. Major issues going on.

    Comment by just sayin' Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 5:53 pm

  6. Hopefully this is the ripping off the band-aid moment - Acknowledge/apologize/correct - releasing the military records a great start.

    The downside is that statement parsing on both sides is going to be oppressive.

    Comment by 10th Indy Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 5:55 pm

  7. Is pathological lying considered a disability under the ADA?

    Comment by Anonymous Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 6:07 pm

  8. Is there a legit third party candidate in this race??

    Comment by Visual Manager Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 6:10 pm

  9. It’s downright Hillary-esque.

    Comment by 47th Ward Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 6:16 pm

  10. Paging Mr. Keyes. Mr. Alan Keyes. You have a call holding on line one - long distance from Chicago.

    Comment by Don't Worry, Be Happy Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 6:19 pm

  11. Does this mean I need to delete the reference on my resume that I am “Writer of the Capital Fax Blog”? I write comments so its true. Or are the precision police going to nitpick.

    Comment by Objective Dem Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 6:28 pm

  12. (Chicago) Congressman Mark Kirk today revised a prior claim that he piloted the plane carrying then First Lady Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea that came under fire when landing in Bosnia. Kirk had previously stated on the House floor that he saved the plane by dodging numerous anti-aircraft missiles, and after landing grabbed a submachine gun and charged the airport perimeter, single-handedly killing dozens of attackers.

    Kirk acknowledged today that the flight was not under fire, he did not pilot it, and in fact has never been to Bosnia. He chalked it up to a misunderstanding, and instead of answering questions he alleged that his opponent was involved in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.

    Comment by Don't Worry, Be Happy Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 6:34 pm

  13. @DWBH - Start the draft!

    “Keyes for Senate, Part II”

    Comment by MrJM Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 6:41 pm

  14. If Kirk doesn’t drop from the race, I think the DSCC and Giannoulias campaign know how to make a TV commercial that reminds voters about Kirk’s false claims of combat experience.

    That is, the timing isn’t going to save Kirk.

    Comment by Carl Nyberg Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 7:03 pm

  15. Scott Lee Cohen is kicking himself for not running for Senate, instead.

    Comment by Thomas Westgard Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 7:07 pm

  16. Go to the Illinois Channel website. Click on Campaign 2010. Find the link to the video of Kirk’s Springfield announcement. After speeches by Cross, Radogno and Edgar, Kirk speaks and talks of being in a Navy plane fired upon in Kosovo.

    Comment by Watch Kirk's Springfield Announcement Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 7:11 pm

  17. This is serious stuff. And blame all around for swallowing it whole in past campaigns. Nothing like that cool cap and impressive ribbons on the left side of your shirt to keep people from wondering if it’s true.

    That you lied has a life of it’s own. Why your lied is a different story.

    Comment by And I Approved This Message Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 7:18 pm

  18. Someone on Dan Seals’ opposition research team really outta kicking themselves about now.

    Comment by ZC Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 7:48 pm

  19. ==Someone on Dan Seals’ opposition research team really outta kicking themselves about now.==

    Since I did have a role in breaking this story, I’d like to address this point.

    The Tenth Dems have long known Kirk was at least exaggerating his military experience and record.

    But the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times were not willing to press Kirk for details.

    The traditional media outlet that caused this story to go big time was the Washington Post.

    Why did the Giannoulias campaign have to go to the Washington Post to get this story covered?

    I expect the answer is that the Trib and S-T continued to refuse to press Kirk.

    The Tribune wants the “moderate” wing of the GOP to be resurgent, the pro-free trade, pro-abortion rights guys. Was the Trib reluctant to question Kirk b/c the paper wanted him to be their golden boy?

    The S-T aligns with Democrats, but is very pro-Israel and hawkish on Middle East policy. Kirk is the darling of the Israel Lobby. Did the S-T go easy on Kirk b/c he aligned himself closely on Middle East policy?

    The fact that Seals campaign couldn’t get the Chicago media to cover Kirk’s bogus military claims doesn’t reflect on Seals or his staff. It reflects on the two big newspapers in Chicago.

    Comment by Carl Nyberg Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 7:57 pm

  20. most of his representations are strictly accurate, i.e ‘member of desert storm MISSION’. But most people in the military have more honor than to allow such misleading statements to go uncorrected. Another prize politician for Illinois.

    Comment by Park Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 8:03 pm

  21. Gotta love SJR - one of their top stories right now is about the national spelling bee.

    Comment by dupage progressive Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 8:04 pm

  22. The “enemy fire” in Iraq isn’t Kirk’s only such statement. Back when he first announced his cnadidacy, he was claiming “serving over” many countrys and lots of “combat missions” in both Bosnia and Iraq, and told at least one more such story about Bosnia. In the clip below (which was put on the Ellen of the 10th blog by an anonymous poster), Kirk tells a funny story at around the 12 minute mark about confusing flak (anti-aircraft fire) for “weather over the target”.

    There are a lot of problems with this cuter story. The big one is asserting coming under fire when there’s no mention of it in the more accurate version of events on his revised campaign bio. Another is claiming it was his “first mission” over Kosovo, when now it would have had to be (if it happened at all, which there’s no indication it did) on his only fight over Kosovo as an “observer.” A third is that there’s no reason an EC-130 would be flying over a target - they aren’t bombers, but e-jammers and signal intercept planes with no defensive weaponry. Putting them over a target would be a pointless risk.

    This story sounds a lot like some WWII anecdotes I’ve heard, but nothing like the experiences Kirk had. It’ll be interesting if he ever gets pushed on this.

    Comment by Berkeley Bear Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 8:06 pm

  23. Man, I think some politicians are ready to shoot the person who created the CSPAN video archive that just opened up.

    (points if you get the reference)

    Comment by George Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 8:11 pm

  24. This is going to be one great election. I think I will end up voting for the candidate I dislike least.

    Comment by Fed-Up Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 8:22 pm

  25. I’m an old man, I regret I never served. I admire those who did immensely.

    I find anyone who lies about their service despicable.

    In case you haven’t noticed, there have been thousands of our young men and women, kids in their 20s, who have been killed in our recent, half-assed Asian adventures.

    if we feel the need to send people to get tough somewhere, send old people like me. I’ve had a pretty good time on this planet. I’m old and tough. Give the young folks a chance to build a life of their own.

    If we want to maintain an American Empire, let the old folks like me take he risks, not the kids.

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 8:33 pm

  26. Amen Word

    Comment by Phineas J. Whoopee Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 8:40 pm

  27. The misrepresentations are so numerous now that they render ineffective Republican attempts to minimize them and claim no wrongdoing.

    Comment by Reformer Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 8:51 pm

  28. Anchors Away Mate….don’t forget to close the hatch on your way out…

    Comment by one day at a time Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 8:58 pm

  29. PJW, we all owe these patriots better. God bless them.

    I wish I had been smarter back in the day. God bless those who were.

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 9:05 pm

  30. “…how tumultuous his life was when he got the award — he just won a primary election…” BUT, he didn’t put the FAKE AWARD brag on his website then. He waited until early 2003. The FAKE AWARD was a deliberate rewrite two years after that “tumultous” time in his life. Check The Wayback Machine. All archived, Markie.

    Comment by Eman Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 9:14 pm

  31. All the more reason I was right not to support him in the primary.

    Pols have to be careful in this day and age. The public can get video of nearly every “mistake” they make and nail them.

    Some one mentioned the SJR covering the national spelling bee. The BND’s big story today and a few prior days was a Chinese widow getting back to China after a marriage plan with a local man fell through. Godspeed to her but I don’t think it’s news. If one relied on the BND, one would be largely unaware of any elections in IL this year. Kirk? Who’s Kirk? Bill Brady? You mean Mike and Carol? Huh? Who’s Sheila Simon? What’s she running for? Trial? Blago? [whoops, there is a story linked on this but low on the list.] and so on…sorry for the media rant.

    Comment by Peggy SO-IL Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 9:41 pm

  32. 10th Indy, “The downside is that statement parsing on both sides is going to be oppressive.”

    Welcome to the 1789 election…. Sheesh, where’ve you been for every election since you, let alone our Constitutional democracy, were born?

    ZC says, “Someone on Dan Seals’ opposition research team really outta kicking themselves about now.”

    To add to Carl Nyberg’s clear and concise response, recall also that the former 10th CD beat reporter for the Tribune is now one of Kirk’s Senate campaign spokeswomen.

    Suzie Kuczka was known to make Trib stories as Kirk-friendly as possible, even going so far as to include after-the-fact article updates with superfluous quotes from Kirk supporters.

    It’s little wonder Kirk hired her to his comm staff after the Trib laid her off.

    Eman says, “The FAKE AWARD was a deliberate rewrite two years after that “tumultous” time in his life.”

    Good point.

    Kirk didn’t make a lot of these false claims until years after that first campaign. Has his entire House career been “tumultuous”? If so, how on earth does he think he could handle an even more intense Senate seat?

    His whole non-apologetic apologia makes no sense.

    He premises his “apology” on the notion that civilians don’t know the difference between unit awards and individual awards let alone the difference between serving in a battle instead of during a battle (on a different continent no less).


    Send him down to the Gulf. He’ll drill those relief wells faster than BP at the rate he’s digging holes for himself.

    Comment by Rob N Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 9:55 pm

  33. Kirk Dillard in a cake walk!

    Comment by Southerner Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 10:08 pm

  34. I had no idea Glenn Poshard was running Kirk’s campaign.
    thank you “Word” for your volunteerism. Never fear, I believe BP’s next plan is to pump old people into the broken pipe in hopes that their proclivity for sluggishness will slow if not seal the leak. If a 75 year old driver on the tollway can back up rush hour traffic for eternity surely a couple thousand of them can plug the leak. We can only pray it works. It would have the added benefit of greatly reducing gov’t spending and help get the economy on its feet again. So, thanks again.
    Time to settle down for a late night soylant green burger. Yummy, they taste so familiar, like family. I wish grandpa was around to enjoy one of these.

    Comment by Michelle Flaherty Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 10:14 pm

  35. “misremembered it wrong”?

    Wouldn’t that mean you remembered it right?

    Comment by hisgirlfriday Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 11:22 pm

  36. No. He could’ve misremembered it right and he wouldn’t be in this fine mess right now. At least, that’s my take.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 11:29 pm

  37. I think he did a pretty good job with the Sun Times board, I watched the whole thing and he didn’t flub at all.

    Comment by Sent from my iPhone Friday, Jun 4, 10 @ 8:30 am

  38. For the Senate we have the incompetent, bungling banker/treasurer who changed the story on his role at the bank against the slick US Rep who cannot get his military service right. In the gubernatorial race we have the dithering, flip-flopping Quinn against the ultra-right, detached from reality Brady.

    With these incredibly bad choices turnout this fall will be miserable. I think Alexi would have pulled it out even without the Kirk firestorm. Quinn will edge out Brady. Illinois is too blue for me to see it otherwise.

    Comment by Independent Friday, Jun 4, 10 @ 8:38 am

  39. Just noticed this.

    After the initial press coverage of Kirk wrongly claiming “intelligence officer of the year” the Kirk campaign sent a press release with quotes from Illinois veterans supporting Kirk (attacking Giannoulias).

    I noticed the list contains no one who served with Kirk.

    Another tidbit. Kirk’s campaign misspelled State Rep. Ron Stephens’ name in the sub headline.

    Nothing says how much Kirk respects veterans as misspelling the name of a supporter who is a veteran and an elected official in your home state.

    Mark Kirk: excellence in action.

    Comment by Carl Nyberg Friday, Jun 4, 10 @ 8:57 am

  40. Here’s the blurbs Kirk sent out posted on Lynn Sweet’s blog.

    Comment by Carl Nyberg Friday, Jun 4, 10 @ 8:59 am

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