Two more people have stepped forward to say that state Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, deceived them about his military record.
The latest accusation comes from the chairman of Washington state’s Libertarian Party, who claims Hunt spoke of being shot and stabbed during his time in the military.
Facing questions about his service, Hunt wrote on his website Friday that his main injury from his time in the Air Force was post-traumatic stress disorder, with no mention of a gunshot or stab wound.
Steven Nielson, a former state legislative candidate and the current head of the state Libertarian Party, says that’s contrary to what Hunt told him two years ago.
“I was stabbed in Afghanistan and I was shot in Iraq so before you start talking about your thoughts and feelings on veterans realize first of all that I’m sorry that you’ve lost a loved one but I’ve lost brothers,” Nielson claims Hunt wrote in a social media message in June 2014.
On Monday, Nielson provided a screen shot of the conversation to The News Tribune, and said the exchange was about Nielson’s work to help restore a veterans wall in Orting.
I posted everything I could show in terms of the medals I’ve received, of my service that I can prove at this point. I’ve tried to take a stance of complete transparency.
State Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, on accusations that he may have exaggerated details of his military service
Nielson urged Hunt to step down Monday, echoing last week’s call by House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, that Hunt clarify his military service record or resign.
“We ought to hold our elected representatives to the highest ethical standards and I believe that misrepresenting your military record not only violates the honor of the service, but it dishonors the integrity of the very office he holds,” Nielson said in a news release.
Hunt maintains that he never intended to mislead anyone about his military service and is working to locate records that will verify his claims of being a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He said Monday that he isn’t friends with Nielson on Facebook and doesn’t remember the conversation in question.
When asked about the injuries he sustained, Hunt said he doesn’t like to discuss details of his medical history. He declined to answer a question about whether he was shot or stabbed.
“Really, with my medical files and things that I’m dealing with, it was difficult to even come out and talk about PTSD,” Hunt said Monday.
Last month, The Seattle Times reported that records from a military personnel center didn’t back up Hunt’s claims of being a “combat veteran” who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Records didn’t reflect that Hunt had received three medals he previously listed on his official and campaign biographies, the newspaper reported.
A military spokeswoman told a Times reporter that records from military personnel centers are sometimes incomplete.
Documents Hunt recently posted on social media confirm that he served in the Air National Guard based in Arizona, and deployed to Saudi Arabia and another location that was classified.
I believe that misrepresenting your military record not only violates the honor of the service, but it dishonors the integrity of the very office he holds.
Steven Nielson, chairman of the state Libertarian Party, calling on state Rep. Graham Hunt to resign
Others have claimed that Hunt also lied to them about serving in the Marines.
On Friday, Joshua Penner, a member of the Pierce County Charter Review Commission who served with Hunt on the Orting City Council, said he heard Hunt say on several occasions that he was a Marine, although Hunt never served in the Marines.
“It hurts because it is through him telling me he served in the Marines that I believe him to be a Marine. It hurts because I have told countless people, in his presence, and elsewhere about him being a Marine,” said Penner, who described Hunt as a “friend” in an open letter he posted on his campaign website.
Hunt, in his own online post Friday, said he served alongside Marines on certain deployments, “which is completely accurate.”
“Apparently, some people have understood this to mean that I served in the Marine Corps,” Hunt said. “This is not the case, and I apologize for not devoting a more concentrated effort in quashing this confusion.”
Hunt said he is working to locate complete records of his military service, but said it might take time. In sending records requests to the federal government, he said he’s been told he may wait more than 90 days.
“Unfortunately, these things don’t move quickly,” Hunt said Monday.
He said he has asked the office of Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for help and has posted some of his military records on Facebook for the public to see.
Those records do not give any indication that he served in Iraq. One says he served in a classified location in Operation Enduring Freedom. That mission name usually refers to deployments in Afghanistan, although it could be a different site in what was known as the global war on terrorism.
“I posted everything I could show in terms of the medals I’ve received, of my service that I can prove at this point,” Hunt said.
“I’ve tried to take a stance of complete transparency.”
Staff writer Adam Ashton contributed to this report.