An Orting state representative dogged by claims he exaggerated and lied about his time in the military posted a lengthy explanation on his campaign website Friday.
But now a friend of Graham Hunt says he lied to several people claiming he was in both the Arizona National Guard and the United States Marine Corps.
“He’s not a Marine. He never served in the Marines,” said Orting City Council member Josh Penner. “To me that is a stolen valor situation.”
Penner says he and state Rep. Graham Hunt have been close friends for five years, even calling Hunt a mentor.
But Penner, who is a Marine veteran himself, says Hunt lied to him and others claiming he served in the Marine Corps even though Hunt's military records reveal he did not.
“He has indicated time and time again that he is a Marine, something that’s very personal to me, and he is not. In that aspect, yes he did lie,” said Penner.
The accusation is just part of a controversy about Hunt's military service that has haunted the Orting Republican for the last week after claims posted on his website were contradicted by his military records.
Hunt posted a statement on his website Friday saying, “I want to be clear that I take full responsibility for my actions and I sincerely apologize for any confusion that has been created.”
Hunt wrote that he has corrected an online biography claiming medals that don't show up in his records.
He stands by claims he served in Afghanistan, although his records indicate he was based in Saudi Arabia. He didn't mention his previous claims about seeing action in Iraq.
He backed away from claims he was wounded in combat, writing instead that he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and not a physical injury following a “gun battle” in Saudi Arabia in 2003.
Hunt also addressed the issue of a doctored photo on his campaign site he claimed was him and another National Guard member after a mortar attack in 2005.
It was, in fact, an Associated Press photo of two different soldiers from a bombing in 2003.
Hunt posted a comment about the photo on Facebook writing, "I have surely not forgotten that moment."
Hunt admitted the photo is not him and that it was altered, but blamed a fired campaign volunteer. He offered no explanation for the Facebook post.
Hunt also claimed people mistakenly thought he was a Marine because he worked on missions with Marines while in the National Guard.
"Apparently, some people have understood this to mean that I served in the Marine Corps. This is not the case," Hunt wrote.
But Penner says Hunt has more explaining to do.
"I think the first thing he should do is make the statement that he lied about being a Marine."
Both Gov. Jay Inslee and Republican House Minority Leader Rep. Dan Kristiansen have called for Hunt to explain the discrepancies or resign his seat.
On Friday an intermediary for Kristiansen said it was not clear if he had read Hunt's posted statement.
The full text of Graham Hunt's statement can be read here: http://huntforthehouse.org/478-2/
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