WASHINGTON--Illinois GOP Senate nominee Rep. Mark Kirk--who is making his Navy service a centerpiece of his campaign--for years has been claiming an award he did not earn: "Intelligence Officer of the Year."
Kirk, a commander in the Navy reserves who is an intelligence specialist corrected the record in a statement posted on his Senate campaign web site only last week.
"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 . . . I was the recipient of the Rufus Taylor Intelligence Unit of the Year award for outstanding support provided during Operation Allied Force," Kirk said. The award was given to his unit, not to him individually.
The Washington Post broke the story about Kirk's inaccurate award claim on Saturday. The Post said it started making inquiries about Kirk's military record after "complaints" from the camp of Kirk's rival, Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois state treasurer.
Asked by the Sun-Times on Saturday night what prompted Kirk to make the change, Kirk spokesman, Danny Diaz, a said "we noticed that it was misidentified and we corrected it."
It has taken Kirk some time to notice the mistake. The Post story noted Kirk, in a March 2002 House committee hearing on national security spending--recorded on C-SPAN--said "I was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year." In a Chicago Sun-Times questionnaire Kirk filled out for the Feb. 2 Illinois primary, he also said he named "Intelligence Office of the Year, 1999."