The Republican “faithless elector,” who made headlines across the country when he wrote a blistering op-ed pledging not to vote for President-elect Trump in the Electoral College, is now under scrutiny himself after his claim to have been a firefighter on 9/11 has been questioned by a local news outlet.
Christopher Suprun, a Republican elector in Texas, wrote a piece for the New York Times on Dec. 5 called “Why I Will Not Cast My Electoral Vote for Donald Trump.” In it, Suprun cites his past as a firefighter on 9/11 as one of the reasons for not voting for Donald Trump on Dec. 19, despite Texas voting comfortably for Trump on Nov. 8.
“Fifteen years ago, as a firefighter, I was part of the response to the Sept. 11 attacks against our nation. That attack and this year’s election may seem unrelated, but for me the relationship becomes clearer every day,” Suprun wrote.
In the piece, he calls on fellow Republican electors to vote their conscience and deny Trump the 270 votes he needs to win the White House, and to back a Republican alternative such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has publicly distanced himself from such efforts.
“The election of the next president is not yet a done deal. Electors of conscience can still do the right thing for the good of the country. Presidential electors have the legal right and a constitutional duty to vote their conscience,” Suprun wrote. “I pray my fellow electors will do their job and join with me in discovering who that person should be.”
Yet, as the move to deny Trump the 270 votes has gained momentum and media coverage, Suprun’s past has come under scrutiny.
Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA reported that Suprun’s LinkedIn page claims that he was part of Manassas Fire Department in Sept. 2001, but found that he was not part of that Fire Dept. until October, and cited an anonymous first responder who knew Suprun, who contradicted his claims.
“He claimed to be a first responder with the Manassas Park Fire Department on September 11, 2001 and personally told us stories 'I was fighting fire that day at the Pentagon.' No, I was on a medic unit that day at the Pentagon and you make a phone call to Manassas Park and you find out that he wasn't even employed there until October 2001," the source told the outlet.
Even if Suprun had been hired by Manassas Park before 9/11, the fire chief there told WFAA that they did not respond to the Pentagon that fateful day.
"It’s no different than stolen valor for the military,” the source told WFAA.
Suprun responded to the allegations in a statement Friday:
“You’re right, I wasn’t in New York on 9-11,” he said [although WFAA did not make such a claim.] “I was a part of the response to the Pentagon attacks, as a member of the Dale City fire department in northern Virginia.”
He explained further in response to a question at an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit.
“That story exhibits a reckless disregard for the truth. I never claimed to be a first responder on 9-11 with the Manassas Park Fire Dept. I was a volunteer firefighter at the time for the Dale City Fire Dept. when I responded to the attacks at the Pentagon,” he said.
Suprun’s claim is backed up in part by a story in Philly.com in 2012, which reported on a talk Suprun gave for the Never Forget foundation. In that, Philly.com reports him claiming in that talk that he was indeed part of the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department.
However, that account does not present him as a firefighter, as he claims to be in his Times op-ed and his Reddit answer, but as a volunteer paramedic. His account does not have him fighting fires, but administering first aid in a nearby parking lot, before being deployed to a recreation center, where he treated first responders.
Follow up questions to Suprun’s agent seeking to clarify his role that were also not returned.
However, the The Dale City Volunteer Fire Department confirmed Friday that Suprun was an “active member in good standing”
from July 2000 to June 2002.
The department said no member was on duty the morning of the terror attacks in which the nearby Pentagon was struck by a high-jacked, commercial U.S. jet. So nobody in the department could have taken part of the initial response. However, members were involved in the response later in the day, the department also said.
The 9-11 issue is not the only question WFAA raised in regards to Suprun’s record.
On his LinkedIn profile, Suprun says he is presently a paramedic with Freedom EMS in Dallas, but WFAA reports that no such company exists. A spokeswoman for Air Methods ambulance service, where Suprun's LinkedIn also claims he works, told the outlet he is not employed there either.
Electors make their decision on Dec. 19. Suprun is so far the only elector to publicly express his intent to change his vote from Trump. It would take 37 votes to deny Trump the votes needed, which would then send the question to the House of Representatives.
Trump would likely still win among the Republican-heavy legislature, but rogue electors hope that by presenting a moderate Republican, they can convince them to snatch the White House away from the billionaire.