Andy Kim, the Democratic candidate in New Jersey's Third Congressional District, changed the biography section on his campaign website to soften descriptions of his time at the White House and Pentagon, which his Republican opponent claimed on Thursday is proof he inflated his résumé.
Archives of Kim's campaign website reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show he originally referred to himself in a prominent role. He described himself in a leadership role within the White House and the Pentagon.
"From the White House I helped our nation lead a global war against ISIS, from our U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan I served as a strategic adviser to Generals David Petraeus and John Allen, and from the Pentagon I helped our nation build a strong military and provide for our brave service men and women," the biography on his website said.
However, the language in the biography currently on Kim's campaign website softens his role. Instead of portraying himself in a leadership role, Kim said he worked at the White House and advised top officials at the Pentagon.
"I worked at the White House on countering terrorism and protecting our country, advised the Secretary of Defense and the Pentagon on national security, and I served in Afghanistan as a strategic adviser to Generals David Petraeus and John Allen," the current biography reads. "When I served in Afghanistan, no one asked me if I was a Democrat or a Republican. We all worked together focused on the mission of keeping our nation safe."
Rep. Tom MacArthur, Kim's Republican opponent, said the change in language is proof that Kim inflated his résumé. Last week, MacArthur's campaign revealed documents which they said call into question Kim's claim of being a high-placed strategist at the Pentagon and White House. Instead, MacArthur's campaign said Kim was classified as a "notetaker" and junior aide who is exaggerating his résumé to get elected.
"Who is the real Andy Kim?" MacArthur strategist Chris Russell said in a statement about the website edits. "Was he a high-level military strategist who needs to take responsibility for the Obama Administration's failed war against ISIS that allowed the genocide of thousands in the Middle East? Or was he a ‘Notetaker' and ‘relatively junior national security aide' now running for Congress with a puffed up resume?"
The Kim campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but they have publicly disputed MacArthur's claim that Kim exaggerated his résumé.
"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," Zach Carroll, Kim's campaign manager, told the New Jersey Globe. "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 said Kim "has a problem with the truth" and the National Republican Congressional Committee said voters shouldn't trust him.
"Notetaker Andy Kim was caught red-handed," Chris Martin, a spokesperson for the group, said. "Now voters should question everything that comes out of his mouth."
The Cook Political Report currently rates the race between MacArthur and Kim as "lean Republican," which indicates the race is very competitive, but MacArthur holds an advantage.
UPDATE 5:35 P.M., Friday 18 May: Andy Kim's campaign manager Zach Carroll told the Free Beacon the campaign website was updated at the beginning of the year and disputed the idea that substantial changes were made to Kim's biography. He issued the following statement:
"If MacArthur wants to have a debate over who has done more to for the security and safety of this country, Andy Kim is happy to engage him," Carroll said. "First, MacArthur can read the words of Vice President Biden, former WH CoS Denis McDonough and Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, all of whom have attested to Andy Kim's important role as director for Iraq at the White House National Security, and his contribution to ensuring strong counter-terrorism initiatives against ISIS and other threats against our country. Or he can talk to the thousands of innocent people who had their lives saved by U.S. counterterrorism operations —an effort Andy Kim coordinated at the National Security Council. Better yet, he can come personally examine the Joint Civilian Service Commendation Medal that four-star Afghanistan war commander General John Allen personally presented to Andy at a ceremony at U.S. military headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan.
"Andy is also happy to teach MacArthur what it takes to earn the highest level of Top Secret classified security clearance, and what it’s like to work at the White House, Pentagon, State Department, United States Agency for International Development, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and at embassies and military bases abroad under both Republican and Democratic administrations. MacArthur’s attack is as pathetic as his voting record."