State Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, has stepped down as the statewide chairman of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign following accusations that Hunt may have exaggerated his military record.
Hunt said Thursday that he didn’t want questions about his background to hurt the Republican U.S. senator’s chances in the presidential race.
“I volunteered to step down at the moment, because I don’t want these accusations to be a distraction to the candidate I hope to become president,” Hunt said.
A Cruz campaign spokesman confirmed in an email this week that Hunt voluntarily stepped down from his role as chairman of the campaign’s Washington state leadership team. The campaign named Hunt to that leadership post in November.
“He voluntarily gave up the position,” wrote Rick Tyler, a Cruz campaign spokesman, in an email. The campaign has yet to select a replacement, another spokesman said.
This month, the Seattle Times reported that military records didn’t back up Hunt’s claims of being a “combat veteran” who served in Iraq and Aghanistan. Records also didn’t reflect that Hunt had received three medals he previously listed on his official and campaign biographies, the newspaper reported.
Records did confirm that Hunt had served in the Air National Guard based in Arizona, and had deployed to Saudi Arabia and another location that was classified, according to the Times.
A military spokeswoman cautioned a Times reporter that records from a personnel center are sometimes incomplete.
Hunt nevertheless has faced increased scrutiny from his colleagues, according to the Times. On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen said that if Hunt couldn’t produce records to verify his military service, Hunt should resign.
Hunt’s name and photo have also been removed from the website of the House Republican Organizational Committee, the House Republicans’ campaign arm, despite Hunt being up for re-election this fall.
Hunt said Thursday that he was working hard to locate the military records that would verify his military accomplishments that are now in question.
“I’ve even reached out for some congressional help to try to get documents to try to fix it,” Hunt said.
Once he does, Hunt said he hopes he can return to working on the Cruz campaign.
“I still very much support Ted Cruz,” Hunt said.
Hunt represents the 2nd Legislative District, which crosses the Pierce and Thurston county line and includes Eatonville, Graham, Orting and Yelm.