Friday, May 12, 2006

Downright Shameful Indeed

Candidate's Military Record Embellished
By H.G. Reza and Ashley Powers
May 12, 2006


An Assembly candidate from the Inland Empire who protested his opponent's ballot designation as a "Retired Marine Colonel" admitted this week that his own military service record had been exaggerated on his campaign website.

Jim Ayres, a Republican running in the 65th Assembly District, claimed to have earned a Gulf War combat award that Air Force officials said he was not given. He also said he received a Cold War medal when in fact he was the recipient of a certificate available to anyone who served during the Cold War.

Ayres' military record was corrected on his campaign website Wednesday after The Times interviewed him.

"It's a mistake on our website," said Ayres, who served 21 years in the military. "In no way, shape or form were we trying to mislead anybody."

The Ayres campaign funded a lawsuit earlier this year that unsuccessfully challenged the ballot designation of his opponent, Ret. Col. Paul Cook, who received a Bronze Star for valor and two Purple Hearts for service in Vietnam.

Ayres argued that Cook should not be allowed to refer to himself as a "Retired Marine Colonel" because he was now a college professor. Cook declined to comment Thursday about the controversy over Ayres' military resume. But he said he was still angry over the lawsuit.

"When he goes after me for being a Marine, I take umbrage," said Cook, who served for more than two decades in the military. "I'm very proud of being a career Marine."

Military credentials can be important to candidates in this Republican-heavy community that includes the cities of Hemet, Yucaipa and Twentynine Palms, home to a Marine base.

Ayres, who spent most of his military service in the Air Force Reserve, has highlighted his service record throughout his campaign.

On his website and in printed campaign materials, Ayres said he was awarded a Southwest Asia Service Medal for valor and a Cold War medal.

All veterans of the Gulf War qualified for the Southwest Asia Service medal, which was not given for valor, said Tech Sgt. Robert C. Mims, an Air Force spokesman.

Ayres received the Southwest medal, Mims said.

On the candidate's website Thursday, it stated that Ayres received the "Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Star."

In this case, the "Bronze Star" refers to a bronze service star, which is pinned on campaign ribbons signifying participation in a particular operation.

Ayres' military record shows he was awarded an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for valor issued to each member in his unit, Mims said.

Mims said Ayres also received a Cold War certificate for service during the Cold War years.

"But it's not a medal, and it's not an official Air Force decoration," Mims said. "Anybody who served in the military during the Cold War [from Sept. 2, 1945 to Dec. 26, 1991] qualifies for the certificate."

Ayres described his jobs in the military as a "parachute packer" and "survival equipment specialist."

Ayres, whose military service spanned from 1982 to 2003, said the distinction between a certificate and a medal was minimal.

"Does it make that much more difference whether it's a medal or certificate?" he said. "It's a medal that you can purchase based on the certificate. Is it recognized by the Department of Defense? No."

On Thursday, Ayres referred further questions to Tim Clark, his campaign consultant. Clark said the website changes were made by the webmaster, whom he said "had a typo that he corrected." He said Ayres never intended to mislead the voters.

"[Ayres] has served admirably," Clark said. "Any attempt to attack his service record is downright shameful."

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-credentials12may12,1,3367826.story

Ouch. This on the heels of the YRs doing IEs calling Ayres a tax-raiser, and YAF filing a federal complaint against him. Bad week.

3 Comments:

At 5/12/2006 1:24 PM, Anonymous Shameful to Disrespect Veterans said...

Veterans Rally, Respond to L.A. Times

Attacks on Jim Ayres


L.A. Times hit piece story called “misleading,” and “irresponsible”


(San Jacinto) – Today, Inland Valley veterans rallied to the side of 21 year Air Force veteran Jim Ayres, calling the L.A. Times hit piece story against Ayres “irresponsible,” “misleading,” and “an attack on veterans.”


“The L.A. Times typically attacks Republicans and supports Democrats. So, it’s no wonder that the newspaper is attacking Republican Jim Ayres, and in doing so, helping Brenda Salas,” said Robert Sigala, Commander of American Legion Post 848 and a veteran of the U.S. Army.


“This story was misleading and an attack on veterans everywhere,” added Larry Patton, U.S. Army Veteran. “To take and discredit Jim Ayres’ fine record of service to this country, including Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, is an affront to any veteran who has served. This is reprehensible.”


“Jim Ayres is a decorated Air Force veteran, and these attacks on his service are clearly manufactured by his opponents for political gain. He served our country well, and any attacks on his service are shameful,” said Col. Lewis Millett (Retired), a Medal of Honor Recipient.


“Jim served with distinction in Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield,” said Todd Hall, Chief Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force. “I know, I was with him. These attacks on his service are dishonoring to all men and women in uniform. Jim put his life on the line for our country. He deserves better than these baseless attacks on his record.”


Jim Ayres served 21 years in the United States Air Force, where he earned over a dozen medals and accommodations, including:




§ Air Force Meritorious Service Medal

§ Air Force Commendation Medal w/ one oak leaf cluster

§ Air Force Achievement Medal

§ Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device and two oak leaf clusters

§ Air Force Good Conduct Medal

§ Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters

§ National Defense Service Medal

§ Southwest Asia Service Medal with bronze star

§ Armed Forces Service Medal

§ Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon with three oak leaf clusters

§ Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Hourglass device

§ USAF NCO PME Graduate Ribbon

§ Air Force Training Ribbon

§ Kuwait Liberation Medal Government of Kuwait



A clerical error on a website had the valor device misplaced on the Southwest Asia Service Medal, rather than the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. The campaign had already corrected the list, but former Democratic operative Brenda Salas used this clerical error to push the nasty article against Ayres in the Los Angeles Times.


“Jim Ayres has earned over a dozen medals and accommodations for his service on behalf of the United States. Brenda Salas never served in our military and never went to war. Her politically motivated attacks on Jim Ayres’ record of service are unfounded and utterly reprehensible,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Bryan Shifflett.


“Brenda’s whole career has been about helping Congressman Joe Baca elect pro-amnesty Democrats,” added Ayres spokesman Mike Richman. “Now, she’s attacking Jim Ayres’ twenty-one year military record. That just stinks, and it’s a typical Democratic tactic. She should be ashamed of herself.”


###

Paid for by Ayres for Assembly 2006
ID#: 1273955 – (951) 654-1915
PO Box 1510, San Jacinto, CA 92581
www.Ayres4Assembly.com

 
At 5/12/2006 2:18 PM, Anonymous The General said...

Seems the Ayres campaign is in total meltdown.

How sad they want to try and turn the story against on of his opponents.

 
At 5/12/2006 4:57 PM, Anonymous Great Press Brenda said...

Two or three issues back, we took Jim Ayres to task for a campaign that attacked other candidates and ignored issues.

Now Brenda Salas, one of the four other candidates for Russ Bogh's 65th Assembly District seat in the June Republican primary, has adopted a similar tack.

After quoting two newspaper editorials regarding Ayres' campaign tactics, Salas' flier goes on to suggest that Ayres is soft on crime, among other things.

The flier quoted a variety of officials to validate the charges.

However, Benjamin Daniels, president of a Republican group called the Reagan Forum, issued a letter not only disclaiming the quote used in the Salas flier, but saying his and the organization's names were used without his permission.

One of the others quoted in the flier is Robert Ritchie, a fellow member of the San Jacinto City Council and longtime foe of Ayres. In the Salas flier, Ritchie accuses Ayres of trying to hide his record on public safety.

San Jacinto Mayor Dale Stubblefield disagrees. He has known Ayres not only for the four years they have served together on the City Council, but for several years before that when Stubblefield was a member of the city staff and: “His priority has always been public safety.”

Ritchie, who is running for county sheriff, was among the former members of the Police Department who were rejected by the Sheriff's Department when they applied for jobs with that agency.

He has since been thwarted in several attempts to change the city's relationship with the Sheriff's Department and frustrated in his repeated attempts to get on the council's Public Safety Committee.

In short, there is every reason to believe Ritchie's attack is nothing more than sour grapes.

As for the charge that Ayres attacked actors who became politicians, the fact is, Ayres has said on several occasions that it was Ronald Reagan's example that drew him into politics, and he has repeatedly voiced his support for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Our point is not to defend or stump for the Ayres campaign, which has been petty in some of its own tactics. Our point is simply that the 65th does not need this kind of attack campaigning, whether it comes from Ayres or Salas - or any candidate.

 

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