The Washington Post face checker determined an ad released by Democratic congressional candidate Andy Kim exaggerates his prior work experience in the administration of former President George W. Bush.
"We don’t question Kim’s expertise on national security, but his ad stretches his résumé to elastic extremes by claiming he was a national security officer for a Republican president," Salvador Rizzo writes.
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Kim is running in a competitive race in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, a district President Barack Obama won twice but that flipped to President Donald Trump in 2016. Kim’s campaign released an ad that references his work as "a national security officer for Republican and Democratic presidents."
Kim’s claim to have worked in high-ranking national security jobs in the Obama administration is accurate. He joined the Obama administration as an Iraq expert in 2009. In 2011, he spent several months in Afghanistan advising Gen. David Petraeus and later Gen. John Allen. He also served as Iraq director on Obama’s National Security Council for two years.
According to Kim’s LinkedIn profile, he worked as a conflict management specialist at the U.S. Agency for Aid and International Development (USAID) for "less than a year" in 2005, during the Bush administration.
Kim’s resume, obtained by the Washington Post, fills in details about his time in the Bush administration. After graduating the University of Chicago in 2004, he interned at USAID for four months on a Truman scholarship. He returned to USAID in 2005 as a conflict management specialist in the agency’s Africa Bureau. The USAID post was an entry-level position and Kim’s first full-time job out of college.
The candidate's campaign gave the Post two statements from former USAID officials who said Kim conducted meaningful work on national security issues.
"The work was absolutely in support of U.S. national security and in direct service to the Bush administration's priority to counter the growth of terrorism and extremism in Africa," said Keri M. Lowry, who also served as a conflict management specialist in the Africa Bureau.
A strategist for Kim’s opponent, incumbent Rep. Tom MacArthur (R., N.J.), said the ad should be taken down. "Andy Kim grossly embellished his résumé at USAID in a deliberate attempt to mislead voters about his background," strategist Chris Russell said.
The Post concluded by giving Kim "Two Pinocchios" for his "résumé puffery."
Kim’s work under Bush simply pales in comparison to his pivotal role in the Obama administration. In any event, considering that the USAID job was an entry-level position, that Kim held it for only five months in 2005, that GS-9 is low on the totem pole, and that Bush did not at the time place much focus on Africa in his national security strategy, it seems like a classic case of résumé puffery. Consider that this line in the ad was part of a bipartisan montage featuring Bush, Obama and the Oval Office.
Our conclusion is tempered by the fact that Sudan was one of Bush’s priorities and that former colleagues of Kim say he did meaningful work on bona fide national security issues, such as terrorism and genocide, during those five months.
Kim has plenty of experience to pitch to voters without exaggerating his first job. We give him Two Pinocchios.