Washington state pol resigns over alleged military service tall tales

A Washington state lawmaker resigned Tuesday after being accused of exaggerating his military service by claiming to be an Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran.

State Rep. Graham Hunt, a Republican, said in a statement he was stepping down “with a heavy heart” and takes “full responsibility for any errors I have made, and I fully accept the obligation to address them responsibly.”

The resignation comes after The Seattle Times reported in January that military records did not seem to support Hunt’s claim in his online biography of having been a “combat veteran” of Iraq and Afghanistan, or three medals he cited as having received. The paper also raised questions about his claim to have been injured in combat, saying Hunt had been vague when asked about the injury.

Further, one image, posted on Hunt’s campaign Facebook page in 2014, claimed to show Hunt after a mortar attack. “I surely have not forgotten that moment,” the accompanying caption read.

In fact, The Times reported, the image was a modified 2003 Associated Press photo of two military policemen from Ohio. Hunt blamed the post on an unnamed campaign volunteer.

Military records show Hunt served in the Air National Guard from 1998 to 2005, during which he served in Saudi Arabia briefly, the Times reported.

Hunt released a statement Friday in which he clarified he only had brief assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he was involved in a "gun battle" in Saudi Arabia, but did not claim to have been in combat elsewhere. Further, he said his injury was post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)

In his resignation, Hunt pushed back against some of the accusations, saying, “I have nothing to conceal, nor have I ever deliberately conducted myself in a manner that compromises my integrity or the integrity of this office.” He said he's seeking to obtain "all records that remain available," suggesting some may no longer exist.

He said the media speculation had taken a toll on his family, his colleagues and the community and therefore he did not feel he could meet the demands of the office. “I apologize to all of those who have been affected by this situation,” he said. “I hope that the people of this state can forgive me for my imperfections, just as I have forgiven those who have attacked me for my imperfections.”

Hunt also was Washington state chairman of Sen. Ted Cruz’s, R-Texas, presidential campaign but has since stepped down, according to the News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash. A request for comment to the Cruz campaign from FoxNews.com was not immediately returned.

Other associates have accused Hunt of lying to them about his record. On Monday, Steven Nielson, a former head of the state Libertarian Party, posted a message from Hunt in which he allegedly claimed to have been shot in Iraq and stabbed in Afghanistan, the Times reported.