IL Sen. Mark Kirk has been attacking war hero Tammy Duckworth’s record serving vets. But his attacks only highlight his history as a serial exaggerator of his own military record and his eagerness to use veterans to score cheap political points. 

Embattled Republican Sen. Mark Kirk has been aggressively attacking his opponent’s record with veterans in an attempt to save his vulnerable seat.

In a risky move, Kirk has been attempting to politicize Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s record at the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Even Republicans have questioned whether voters will believe Duckworth has failed to be there for her fellow veterans, given that Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran and Veterans Affairs official who was severally wounded when her helicopter was shot down.

It’s also a risky attack for Kirk because of his history of exaggerating his own service record for cheap political gain.

Kirk has a long history of exaggerating and misleading about his service record in order to appear more heroic. These exaggerations go back at least as far as 2005, when he was caught claiming on his website that he was “the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom,” when in fact he served stateside *during* Iraqi Freedom, but not in Iraq during that operation.

Later, during his 2010 senate race, Kirk was caught falsely claiming in his official bio that he’d been awarded the “intelligence officer of the year.” Indeed, he had reportedly been pitching himself as a recipient of the award for years — going all the way back to his first Congressional race. In actuality his unit — and not he alone — was awarded a different prize, the Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award. This led the Daily Herald at the time to write: “At minimum, the discrepancy seems to suggest he was taking individual credit for an honor his entire unit won” (sort of like when Bill O’Reilly claimed he’d won two Peabody awards).

And that’s not all. Kirk has been caught misleading voters about his service at least ten times. As the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board said, “so many embellishments over so many years can’t be explained away as inadvertent slip ups.” He was also twice admonished with respect to the Pentagon’s rule about getting involved in politics while on active duty.

The Duckworth campaign recently highlighted Kirk’s history of exaggerating his record in a new ad called “repeatedly:”

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)