Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk apologizes


The Republican candidate for President Obama’s old Senate seat apologized Tuesday for being “careless” about embellishing aspects of his Navy reservist career and promised to “make sure this never happens again.”

Rep. Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois and his Democratic opponent, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, are in a tight contest that is being watched nationwide.

“I have made mistakes concerning certain aspects of my accomplishments and experiences, and I apologize for those mistakes and I pledge to correct those errors,” Kirk said at a news conference. “I am not perfect and was careless. I will do better and I will make sure this never happens again.”

Questions first arose a month ago about claims Kirk had made regarding his military career. The first issue concerned an “intelligence officer of the year” award he said he had won, but later acknowledged he had not. A different citation went to his whole unit.

A letter from his office said he served in the first Gulf War when he did not. He has also referred to serving in the invasion of Iraq, although his duties kept him stateside. He said his Reserve work sometimes includes running the Pentagon war room, though he oversees only the intelligence operations.

Most recently, the Pentagon said Kirk twice violated military policies by politicking on active duty. Although his campaign initially said he had never violated Defense Department policies, on Tuesday the congressman acknowledged being “counseled” about the issue.

Giannoulias’ campaign accused Kirk of “a pattern of lies, plain and simple,” arguing that he had repeated the assertions too often for them to be mere mistakes.