OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Sstate Rep. Graham Hunt of Orting announced his resignation from the Legislature on Tuesday after recent questions that he exaggerated his service in the military.
Hunt has faced increasing scrutiny over his military record since The Seattle Times reported last month that records did not verify his claims of being a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He also claimed three medals the military has no record of him receiving.
In a statement on his website, Hunt wrote there are inconsistencies in the record of his military service. He said his constituents "deserve a full-time representative who can zealously advocate for their objectives without distraction."
Most recently, Washington state's Libertarian Party Chairman Steven Nielson said Hunt's statements last week saying he only suffered post-traumatic stress disorder is contrary to claims the lawmaker made in 2014 about being stabbed, according to The News Tribune.
"I was stabbed in Afghanistan and I was shot in Iraq so before you start talking about your thoughts and feelings on veterans realize first of all that I'm sorry that you've lost a loved one but I've lost brothers," Nielson claims Hunt wrote in a social media message in June 2014.
Nielson provided The News Tribune screen shots of the conversation, which he says was about Nielson's work to help restore a veteran's wall in Orting.
"We ought to hold our elected representatives to the highest ethical standards and I believe that misrepresenting your military record not only violates the honor of the service, but it dishonors the integrity of the very office he holds," Nielson said in a news release.
Nielson had called for Hunt to resign, echoing House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen's call on Tuesday for Hunt to clarify his military service record or resign. Kristiansen said before Hunt's resignation that the lawmaker met with the Republican leadership on Tuesday.
Hunt continues to say he did not intentionally mislead anyone about his military service. He said Monday that he isn't friends with Nielson on Facebook and that he doesn't remember the conversation in question.
In his statement he wrote he has "exerted my best effort in trying to compile a complete set of my military personnel files" and has "worked to identify and explain any remaining confusion to the best of my ability."
Hunt has released documents confirming that he served in the Air National Guard based in Arizona, and that he was deployed to Saudi Arabia and another location that was classified.
On Friday, Pierce County Charter Review Commission member Joshua Penner said he heard Hunt say on several occasions that he was a Marine, although Hunt never served in the Marines. Penner served with Hunt on the Orting City Council.
"It hurts because it is through him telling me he served in the Marines that I believe him to be a Marine. It hurts because I have told countless people, in his presence, and elsewhere about him being a Marine," said Penner.
Hunt posted online Friday that he has served alongside Marines on deployment, and that if anyone has been misled to believe he was claiming he served as a Marine, that was not his intention.
Hunt was appointed to the Legislature in 2014 and won election to a full term in November of 2014.
"I apologize to all of those who have been affected by this situation," he wrote in the statement. "The journey I have shared with the citizens of my district, as their representative, has been a distinct honor for which I am forever grateful."