State Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, resigned his position in the state Legislature on Tuesday following accusations he lied about his military service, including about being wounded in combat.
Hunt said he will immediately vacate the seat representing Washington’s Second Legislative District, which includes Yelm, Orting, Roy, McKenna, Graham and Eatonville.
In a statement Tuesday, Hunt wrote he had “nothing to conceal,” but that the “recent speculation of impropriety has taken its toll” on his family, as well as on members of his local community.
“The people of the Second District of Washington deserve a full-time representative who can zealously advocate for their objectives without distraction,” Hunt posted on his campaign website Tuesday. “Under the current circumstances, I no longer feel that I can meet these expectations.”
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Hunt’s resignation comes less than two weeks after The Seattle Times reported that military records don’t back up his claims of being a “combat veteran” of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Previously, Hunt listed three medals in his official and campaign biographies that military records don’t show he received, the newspaper reported.
The people of the Second District of Washington deserve a full-time representative who can zealously advocate for their objectives without distraction ...I no longer feel that I can meet these expectations.
Former state Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, who resigned Tuesday after questions were raised about his military service claims
While a military spokeswoman cautioned that records from a personnel center sometimes are incomplete, others have come forward in recent days to say Hunt deceived them about his service record.
Orting City Councilman Joshua Penner said he’d heard Hunt falsely claim to be a Marine, when in fact Hunt never served in the Marines.
Meanwhile, a Libertarian party official said Hunt claimed in a private message two years ago that he was stabbed and shot while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That’s contrary to a statement Hunt posted online last week, in which he described his main service-related injury as post-traumatic stress disorder, with no mention of being stabbed or shot.
An altered photo appeared on Hunt’s Facebook page in 2014, with accompanying text that falsely claimed the photo showed Hunt after a 2005 mortar attack. The photo actually showed two U.S. soldiers in Iraq in 2003.
Hunt has said a campaign volunteer posted the photo in his name, but he declined to name the person responsible.
A former member of the Orting City Council, Hunt was appointed to the state House in January 2014. He won a full two-year term that November, defeating Democratic challenger Greg Hartman.
Hunt was named the statewide chairman of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in November, but left the post last month after questions arose about his background.
If he has been purposefully misleading the public on this, then I believe that is grounds for him to resign his position.
House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, a few hours before Hunt announced his resignation
Last week, House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, said Hunt needed to clarify his military record or resign. Hunt has said he is trying to find documents that would verify his service.
On Tuesday, Kristiansen said House Republican leaders were meeting with Hunt to discuss the matter.
“If he has been purposefully misleading the public on this, then I believe that is grounds for him to resign his position,” Kristiansen said at a noon news conference.
Hunt announced his resignation about five hours later.
Hunt’s departure leaves a vacancy that state law dictates must be filled by another member of his party.
In accordance with the law, Republican party officials will select a pool of three candidates for the appointment, with the final decision to be made jointly by Pierce County Council members and Thurston County commissioners.
In his statement Tuesday, Hunt wrote he was confident whoever replaces him “will embrace the traditional conservative principals so deeply ingrained in the people of the Second District.”
“I deeply appreciate those who have supported my family and me through these difficult times, and hope that they extend the same level of dedicated support to my successor,” Hunt wrote.