A Republican lawmaker who’s serving as chairman of Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign in Washington state has resigned over accusations that he exaggerated his military record and lied about serving in the Marines and being wounded in combat.
State Rep. Graham Hunt (R-Orting) said in a statement posted Tuesday evening that it’s “with a heavy heart” he was stepping down effective immediately, citing “substantial media attention” devoted to “inconsistencies in the records of my military service,” The Seattle Times reports.
Hunt’s resignation follows questions regarding his military career after it was revealed that a doctored picture was posted on his Facebook page reading, “This picture of me was taken after a mortar attack in 2005.” He added. “Background has been modified, but I think combat camera captured the moment pretty well. I surely have not forgotten that moment.”
The only problem is that the picture in question was not him. That post was since deleted.
Hunt’s claims of serving as a “combat veteran” in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the three medals he listed on his official biography, could not be backed up by the military.
Records show that Hunt was deployed overseas, including at a classified location, but there’s no record he ever served in Iraq or Afghanistan. So, this isn’t a claim of Stolen Valor exactly, but it is a case of allegedly embellishing his military record.
The lawmaker quickly scrubbed details of his military background from his bio after his background was scrutinized.
Hunt claimed he had a bad memory and couldn’t remember the details of his military background, but since then, others have stepped forward.
The Seattle Times reports:
Last week, Josh Penner, who had served with Hunt on the Orting City Council, issued an open letter saying Hunt had lied repeatedly in telling him and others that he was a Marine veteran.
And Monday, Steven Nielson, a former legislative candidate and head of the state Libertarian Party, publicized a private social-media message to him from 2014 in which Hunt claimed to have been shot in Iraq and stabbed in Afghanistan.
Hunt was one of two Washington state lawmakers who traveled to Oregon to meet with the armed militants who have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Since that time, there are only four remaining Occupiers left at the refuge. LaVoy Finicum was fatally shot by the authorities and the leaders remain in custody.
Hunt was elected in 2014 to the legislative seat to which he was appointed the year before. The lawmaker said a campaign volunteer posted the military photo in his name, but he declined to name the person responsible.
Hunt defeated Democratic challenger Greg Hartman. In November, Hunt was named the statewide chairman of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.
House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen (R-Snohomish) said last week that Hunt needs to clarify his military record or resign. “If he has been purposefully misleading the public on this, then I believe that is grounds for him to resign his position,” Kristiansen said.
And he did.
Cruz himself has literally no military background, so having people on his staff that don’t respect military service could be devastating to him.
Featured image: Legislative Support Services.