Rep. Tom MacArthur’s campaign is taking aim — perhaps with limited success — at apparent discrepancies in his opponent’s resume, claiming that former national security staffer Andy Kim has inflated his experience in a campaign biography.
“Andy Kim is attempting to fool people into thinking he was a high-ranking military advisor directing foreign wars alongside our top generals, when the evidence seems to indicate that he was little more than a low-level bureaucrat charged with keeping notes,” MacArthur campaign spokesman said in statement Friday.
At issue is a portion of Kim’s campaign biography that says he “served in Afghanistan as a strategic adviser to then-Generals David Petraeus and John Allen.” MacArthur’s camp claims the timeline doesn’t add up.
An internal December 2011 email between State Department Aides obtained by the MacArthur campaign and shared with The New Jersey Globe refers to Kim as a “notetaker,” which Russell said would make Kim the lowest-ranking staffer in a meeting with then-Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, which was attended by two ambassadors and a stable of senior State Department officials, according to the email.
But State Department schedules from 2010 list senior officials as notetakers, including Dan Shapiro and Liz Sherwood-Randall, who were, respectively, the Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa on the National Security Council and the Senior Director for European Affairs at the time.
Zack Carroll, Kim’s campaign manager, was quick to turn the accusations around.
“Tom MacArthur’s desperate and false attack is a pathetic attempt to distract from the fact that MacArthur has spent his time in Congress working to repeal health care and get big giveaways for his rich donors, special interests and himself,” Carroll said. “While Andy Kim served his country, Tom MacArthur let our military and veterans down by leaving the House Armed Services Committee to get closer to Wall Street.”
Russell was unsatisfied with that.
“Andy Kim’s rant fails to answer the basic question we asked: How does someone go from allegedly advising America’s top generals in Afghanistan to being a low-level ‘notetaker’ at a meeting a few months later?” MacArthur said. “If he was as integral as he claims, then Andy Kim’s revisionist history on ISIS is remarkable for its dishonesty and self-congratulation.”
Carroll then pointed to the Joint Services Commission Commendation Medal Allen presented Kim for his work in Afghanistan.
MacArthur’s campaign tried to confirm Kim’s positions through a Freedom of Information Act request to the Office of Personnel Management, but they received a written response that said none of the 61 Andrew Kim’s in their system had the listed credentials.
The problem there, Carroll said, is that Kim was always a State Department employee. State Department personnel records are maintained internally on a different records system than the one maintained by OPM.
A March 20 response to the MacArthur campaign’s FOIA request warned that some records, particularly foreign service records, not yet have been transferred to broader system.
Russell also pointed to Kim’s absence from Petraeus’s biography. The Kim campaign didn’t respond to that charge.
The final charge in the MacArthur release referenced a 2014 Politico report by Michael Crowley that referred to Kim as a “relatively junior national security aide.” But, in the same sentence, Crowley said Kim was in charge of Iraq.
While the MacArthur campaign’s attack appears to have missed the mark, they probably didn’t shoot themselves in the foot. Speaking generally, Rowan University political science professor Ben Dworkin said that this type of mistake was unlikely to harm a campaign in an election some six months away.
“Attack ads can always backfire, but it’s usually not because of embellishment, which the public has come to expect from campaign rhetoric and advertising,” Dworkin said. “It’s also May, and there’s a lot of time between now and the actual election. So, any hiccup for any campaign probably won’t mean that much unless it means part of a larger narrative or continues to repeat itself.”