I was commissioned as an Ensign in the US Navy Reserve in 1989. I have now served 21 years. For the last 10 years, as a Member of Congress, I served without pay because I love the Navy, her duty, honor, country. In uniform, I served during conflicts with Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and Bosnia. I am proud of my service – it is the honor of my life to work with Americans who keep America safe.
Last week, I found that I misidentified a military award and corrected my biography. According to the Washington Post, their reporter worked with Alexi Giannoulias' campaign to write a story that turned out to be imprecise about the title of an award included in that biography.
The error was discovered last week by my staff. Going through my Fitness Reports for 1999/2000, we recognized that referring to an award as “Intelligence Officer of the Year” was not precise – so we corrected my biography with the official name of a very distinguished award that I am honored to have received.
My corrected biography accurately shows I received the United States Navy Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award – as the leader of an ad-hoc intelligence effort supporting four EA-6B Prowler electronic attack squadrons as part of Operation Allied Force – instead of Intelligence Officer of the Year. I accepted the Taylor Intelligence Award (named after the head of navy intelligence in World War II) as the leader of an intelligence section that I assembled and led. There is no hierarchy between these awards as the Taylor Intelligence Award is equally distinguished.
I knew Alexi Giannoulias would focus on a negative campaign – in fact, he and his consultants announced that in the New York Times. I corrected the record, but I will not let my 21 years of service in uniform be denigrated by Alexi Giannoulias, a man who chose not to serve.
Frankly, I thought it took some nerve when he ran a television ad claiming credit for what amounted to tens of millions in investment losses from the college savings of thousands of working families under Illinois Bright Start – or to follow it up with a second ad looking for sympathy after so many of his decisions ran his bank into the ground, costing the FDIC $394 million. But coming after my 21-year Navy service record just might top those.
In November, Illinois voters have a choice – so let us look at my opponent’s record – here it is. Because of that record he has made a strategic decision to attack my military service record. I understand politics is a tough business – but this attack orchestrated by Alexi Giannoulias is a disgrace.
My official Navy records speak for themselves – read them here.
Our state and nation face serious problems - and having a veteran's military record challenged by a politician who never served and was anointed by the media as a "mob banker" is absurd.
I look forward to the contest and laying out the choice. If Alexi wants to make this race about my military record, I'm happy to have the debate. Thank you for your continued support.
Very truly yours,
Member of Congress