Let me begin by saying that some days I hate this gig, but somebody’s got to do it.
The whole state is abuzz today with the D-G’s article on our endorsed candidate, Ken Aden. Attacks on Aden’s military service record began on blogs and on facebook and now the D-G has looked into not only that, but claims about Aden’s education.
Third Congressional District candidate Ken Aden has
claimed he’s a Green Beret, but his military records indicate he
washed out of Special Forces training, not once but three times.
Aden, a Democrat from Russellville, has said throughout his campaign
that he is qualified as a Special Forces soldier. Documents obtained
Wednesday by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette through a federal Freedom
of Information Act request indicate that Aden never completed the
qualification course to become a Special Forces soldier.
The discrepancies have also brought into question Aden’s academic
claims. Aden claims to have an associate degree from Arkansas State
University, but the registrar’s office said he never took a class
There’s a ton of stuff in there, and as much as I’d like to highlight all of it I’d soon go over the limits of what qualifies as fair use if I did. Still, I’ll do what I can. The D-G cites a number of military officials saying flatly that Ken was never a Green Beret, something Ken was cited in numerous newspaper articles and (to my knowledge) one press release as saying. For my part, I can say that when folks on the right began asking questions, Ken and I had a phone conversation where he was livid about the questions and said specifically “they’re saying I was never a green beret”. Ken himself though hedged on that in the D-G article, saying:
“Only those individuals who serve with a Special Forces unit are
qualified to wear the Green Beret headgear,” he said. “As a result of
my injury, I never served with a Green Beret unit.”
ADEN NEWS RELEASE
RUSSELLVILLE—Ken Aden, Democratic nominee for U.S. Congress from Arkansas’ Third District, issued the following statement in response to a story in Thursday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
“The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning made multiple inaccurate statements about my military record and designation as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, commonly known as an ’18B.’
I earned the 18B designation, and was awarded the same on June 12, 2008, and provided a copy of the orders from Installation Management Command at Fort Bragg to the Democrat-Gazette. Unfortunately, they ignored these documents.
The claims perpetuated by the Democrat-Gazette that my maintaining the 18B designation was somehow a mistake or error are ridiculous. Soldiers are not awarded and do not keep designations by accident. Additionally, it was noted on multiple service evaluations that I both held the 18B designation and used the training from that designation to better serve my unit. Again, the Democrat-Gazette ignored the relevant documents.
Unfortunately, it is difficult for us to adequately respond to many of the false claims the Democrat-Gazette made about my training and service record, as they declined to let us review the documents they claim to have received under a Freedom of Information Request. Given the fact that military records are often either inaccurate or incomplete when released even to individual soldiers, we will not comment further on some of the Democrat-Gazette’s outrageous claims. We also note that, the Public Information Office at Fort Bragg and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School advised our campaign yesterday that they had never received any inquiries from the Democrat-Gazette, in spite of the fact that the Democrat-Gazette claims to quote an official from the Special Warfare School.
We advised the Democrat-Gazette that I made a request for my complete military file from the National Archives, which would be far more extensive than what the newspaper could have received under the Freedom of Information Act, and offered to share the entire contents of that file with the newspaper. Receipt of this file would have enabled the newspaper to verify more accurately the information they have reported, and to have caught multiple mistakes they made in their story. Unfortunately, the Democrat-Gazette elected not to wait for the short amount of time it would take to have the opportunity to review the more accurate record.
I have made no secret of the fact that I misspoke about serving with a Green Beret Unit. However, as indicated in records I provided the Democrat-Gazette and other media outlets, I was designated as 18B, which is a special forces designation, and I maintained that designation until I was discharged. For the Democrat-Gazette to claim I was not entitled to that designation or that it was somehow a mistake that I held the designation for so long is both ridiculous and insulting, to myself and other combat veterans who may be considering a run for public office.
I do not intend to allow this to distract my campaign from our mission of ensuring that the people of the Third Congressional District are ultimately represented in Congress by someone who reflects their values and beliefs on issues such as Medicare and Social Security.”
Once, maybe twice, is misspeaking, and if Ken were making no secret about it he wouldn’t have been so insistent and livid about the claim that he wasn’t a green beret with me on the phone that day.
That said, there are a lot of supporters out there quickly becoming former supporters. The facebook threads are getting pretty heated and the Aden campaign is finding themselves dealing with something they’re not used to-pissed off progressives questioning their integrity. That’s exactly what this has become, an issue of integrity. There are only two ways to deal with that-if you lied, you apologize, no strings attached, and if you didn’t lie then you do whatever it takes to vindicate yourself. Ken has to do one or another, not the least because it’s the right thing to do, never mind about what it means for his campaign.
On that last note, the DPA has already gone on record saying they want to see how this shakes out and from what I hear a stronger statement may be coming down the pipe. I’m also hearing that there are some Democratic Central Committees in NWA that are looking in to getting Ken off the ballot. The Aden campaign has the sky falling down on it and it may not be long before you hear calls for him to drop out of the race.
That said, La Voix and I had a long conversation about this and about what we should do. It wasn’t an easy or enjoyable conversation to have, but both of us came to this agreement. We have always maintained that progressive Democrats were different because we police our own and try to do what’s right even when it is not easy. We have always tried to hold candidates to a higher standard here, even the ones we support. That is not always an easy thing to do, especially when you try to do as much for candidates as we do here, on the blog and off the blog. And because we do so much for our candidates here, I have to say that I’m feeling a little hurt. I keep going back to that phone conversation where Ken was so livid that someone would question that he was a green beret, and then back to that press statement where he said he’s been upfront about how he “misspoke”. If Steve Womack or a Democrat like Clark Hall did something like that, we would rip them apart. A candidate we have supported should be no different. Again, Ken has two options. He can put out an apology, no strings attached, and explain why he felt the need to exaggerate all this, or if he can prove it’s not true he should come out with all the documentation that can vindicate him. It’s easy enough to get a transcript from ASU or a statement of support from Fort Bragg, that’s all this really needs to be cleared up. Until we get that though, we can’t risk our integrity, especially after he “misspoke” about being a green beret on multiple occasions. There is no understating how big this is. Unless Ken can clear this up, we can’t defend him or be his advocates, that’s the standard we would set for anyone. Ken’s got to clean this mess up on his own, and we’re going to be watching the developments that come over the next week to see just what happens.