Another Phony “Veteran”

Rich Trzupek is a veteran environmental consultant and senior advisor to the Heartland Institute. He is the author of the new book Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry (Encounter Books).


There’s nothing quite so arrogant as an arrogant liberal occupying a position of power. Connecticut senate candidate Richard Blumenthal’s non-apologetic apology over his false claims to have served in Vietnam was a case point. Last week, another liberal Democrat, Illinois congressman Phil Hare (D -17) was in the news again, this time for allegedly threatening a constituent who called the congressman out over his fatuous claims of being a veteran.

You may remember Phil Hare. He was filmed telling a constituent that he doesn’t worry about the Constitution. It was a stupid thing to say, but I’m inclined to give Hare the benefit of the doubt regarding the Constitution. In the context the question he was being asked – where in the Constitution does it say that Americans have the right to health care? – he probably meant that he felt that the healthcare bill would survive a constitutional challenge, rather than thumbing his nose at that hallowed document itself. Not that many a Democrat doesn’t think in the latter terms, but they surely know better than to express such an opinion.

What was more troubling in that video was the sneering arrogance that seemed to seethe through congressman Hare’s very pores. Hare sounded more like a feudal lord putting an annoying peasant in his rightful place for daring to question his master’s wisdom than he did an elected representative addressing the legitimate inquiries of an obviously upset and concerned constituent. But, perhaps Phil Hare was just having a bad day? It seems not. The latest accusations leveled against the congressman are enough to make one question not just his qualifications to serve in the United States Congress, but whether he would be fit to lead a Boy Scout troop.

Hare has repeatedly called himself a “veteran.” In fact, he joined the reserves during the Vietnam era and was never called to active service. By most legal definitions of the word, and most importantly to most real veterans themselves, a former reservist is not entitled to call himself a veteran. When a former reservist uses their honored word, real veterans get touchy, and understandably so. If such a deception doesn’t qualify as a case of full-blown stolen honor, it’s certainly matter of taking out an extended, zero-interest loan against the honor of those men and women who earned the title.

Ken Moffett, a constituent of Hare’s from Moline, Illinois and an actual veteran, asked the congressman to stop describing himself using the term to which – in Moffett’s and many a veteran’s view – Hare is not entitled. The congressman’s reaction was so offensive that Moffett was moved to pen a letter to Blake Chisam, committee staff director and chief counsel of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics). The following excerpt from that letter, dated June 2, 2010, describes what Moffett says happened during his encounter with Hare:

“After I pointed out that according to the law he is not a veteran, he became very upset and demanded to know my name. I refused to tell him my name, saying that this was about his claim of being a veteran and not about me.

Mr. Hare then told one of his aides who was with him, to follow me to my car and get my license plate number so he could find out who I was. I have since been told that Mr. Hare’s daughter works for the DMV.

I then asked Mr. Hare if he was going to stop telling people that he was a veteran. Mr. Hare again demanded to know my name, and again told his aide to get my name or to follow me to get me license number so he could find out who I was, so he could tell the former reservists what I said.

I asked Mr. Hare if he as a public official was going to use his official office to run name checks on private citizens, in order to intimidate them into not asking questions he did not want to answer.

As Mr. Hare was turning to walk away from me he paused, and turning back to my direction, he glared at me intently, and while leaning forward pointed his finger at me, and in a threatening and intimidating manner said, “I’ll find out who you are!”

Aside from tossing in the obligatory “and your little dog too!” Hare sounds a lot more like the Wicked Witch of the West than a reasoned and sober representative of the people according to Moffett’s account. The arrogance and veiled threats that Moffett describes in his letter are consistent with the persona Hare revealed in the “what, me worry about the Constitution?” video.

Will there be outrage over these allegations? Will there be a full-blown investigation to find out if Phil Hare has threatened to misuse, or has actually misused, his power to intimidate voters? There ought to be, on all counts. “I’ll find out who you are!” sounds a hell of a lot more scary than all of the rights that we supposedly lost when George W. Bush flushed the Constitution down the toilet so the NSA could snoop around in search of terrorist e-mails.

When it comes to the media and progressives, the “good intentions test” (good intentions, being of course defined solely by them) is the only thing that matters. I suspect Phil Hare, like Jesse Jackson and so many others before him, will get a free pass. Whether Illinois voters will let him off the hook so easily remains to be seen.

  • Guest

    "…but whether he would be fit to lead a Boy Scout troop."

    He sounds like some sort of pervert…. I sure would not want him around my boys.

    • MARK

      It is a bunch of B.S. I was a combat medic who served proudly in Iraq and earned a combat medical badge. I always love to hear about the "fobbits" who exaggerate what they did while serving their country..Its a joke! God bless those who have defended our freedom..

  • Tom

    Did Hare have a "Kerry" moment?? There have also been a lot of questions raised about Murtha's "war" record as well. Of course, he's dead and in Hell now, but he wreaked havoc while he was alive. Seems Kerry and Murtha both may have gotten Purple hearts they weren't entitled to. As a Vietnam Vet, my blood curdles every time I see or hear Kerry.

    • USMCSniper

      John Kerry arranged for and attended secret unauthorized meetings with both the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Communist Delegations in Paris France in 1970 and 1971 while he was still a Reserve Naval Officer (not discharged under conditions other than honorable until 1973) while hostilities were ongoing in South Vietnam. For this he should have gotten 10 years in Leavenworth and a dishonorable discharge for aiding and abetting the enemy and should never have been allowed to hold a public office of any kind.

      • JohnC

        Here, here Sniper! But, in the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts his behavior was, and is, a resume enhancer.

  • springer

    Did Hare ride with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association. Reason why I ask is this.
    Whats the deal with these veterans that ride motorcycles and wear a patch called "COMBAT VETERAN MOTORCYCLE ASSOCIATION?" I have a friend who lives in R.I. who is a VNAM VET but was in the rear with the gear and he belongs to this group. He never claimed to be a "COMBAT VET" but now he wears this big Motorcycle Club type patch saying he is. He also told me that R.I. Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association denied membership to a Vietnam Combat Veteran who earned the CIB with the 25th infantry Div. This VNAM combat veteran met all the qualifications to join this group but seems the days of discriminating against Vietnam veterans are not over. The so called COMBAT Veteran Motorcyclist who denied the Vietnam CIB wearing veteran membership was a paper pushing lifer in Iraq and doesn't even have a Combat Action Badge. These people claiming to be Combat Veterans is bogus from where I sit. Talk about STOLEN VALOR!!!

    • Vietnam vetertan

      These fakes like to trash Vietnam Combat Veterans.
      They could not walk in the shoes of a Vietnam Veteran if they lived ten life times.

    • skidawg

      CombatAction Badges aren'ta good sign to tell if someone was in combat, my boys took and returned fire and all were denied their badges others received their CAB's for being near (100 meters) mortar fire. Then again do those who sit in the "rear" and take mortar and rocket fire not qualify ? What about those at entry points who have to make sure no IED's were placed over night then search 300 locals a day to see if they are wearing bombs does that count as combat?

    • jago

      First off, CVMA is not a motorcycle club. We are an association that help other vets, as our motto says "vets helping vets". We do not try to act as bad ass bikers or 1%ers. We are there to support vets in many forms…i.e. we will form a flag line, making a path to the buses that take them to the flight line. to honor our soldiers heading into combat. When one of our fallen hero's is laid to rest, we will show up in large numbers at his funeral. These are just a few things we do as an association to honor our vets. Secondly, Your friend who was in the rear with the gear still put himself as risk by serving in a combat zone. Therefor deserving to to be a full patch member. Third, each potential member must show verifiable proof of combat experience by showing his ERB or DD214 before being accepted as a full member. And as for your friend with a CIB, You can get a CIB without even leaving the states. It is a week long skills test. That's it.. Get your facts straight before you go disrespecting our vets.

      • Rooster

        Correction jago, a CIB is the "Combat Infantryman's Badge" Not inclusive of the week long test which earns one the EIB or "Expert Infantryman's Badge" …Two different animals.

    • DezRAT

      From where I sit…..you NEVER served. I know a lot of CVMA members and they are ALL top notch…..CVMA only requires that you have the campaign badge…….guess you FAILED to read the requirements. Oh, you know nothing about the CAB either……those badges ARE for NON-COMBAT ARMS that engaged the enemy…..go back to your civi life and keep reading your Harry Potter stories……Oh, the Cav troopers get NO recognition for all they do, and really don't that much either.

  • David

    Dont mess with his fiefdom, he is king and you better respect him.

    He is another fraud from Illinoise. Who are the people that elect these guys. Are they all on wellfare? Just keep giving them freebeez and you can rape them all day long. We are selling our birthright for a few handouts. Weeeeee.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/The_Inquisitor The_Inquisitor

    "But, perhaps Phil Hare was just having a bad day?"

    He was having a bad Hare day.

  • AlgerHiss

    Someone in law enforcement needs to go question that daughter of his. Has she ever delved into those data bases for her punk-thug father, or anyone else?

    • JohnC

      Something tells me his daughter probably thinks her father's demand to know who is this peasant questioning him was a very Hare Brained thing to do.

    • Ken

      I agree, and if she has, she should be prosecuted to the fullest extent!!

  • RA69-71

    Anyone who claims to be a Vietnam veteran and wasn't serving with a unit there has neither the honor nor integrity to hold public office. Unlike the men and women serving in the national guard and reserves today, many – but not all – of the Vietnam era reservists/guard members knew that their status would keep them out of Vietnam and combat. Also, those that served in combat support roles in Vietnam were at risk and deserve to be called Vietnam veterans. The military members during this period who did serve in other locations are Vietnam era veterans and performed duty to deter Soviet and Chinese threats.

  • BS1977

    Funny…these politicians are supposed to work for their constituents, as paid employees of the tax paying voting citizen….not the other way around. For decades now, being in Congress has swelled the egos of hack political careerists…>They think they are some sort of privileged elite, travelling first class, staying in the best hotels, living large, going on "fact finding" junkets to Paris and resorts in the Carribbean…sad thing is their constituents just shrug and put up with it. Hopefully this November there will be a major shift. I hope Carly Fiorina and that lady running against Reid WIN, big time.

    • JohnC

      Hey BS, politicans, especially at this level, only represent themselves. Period. I know this comes across as cynical, but it is what I believe. Oh, and I just read that approx. 66% of Congresspersons/Senators become lobbyists courting their old colleagues in Congress after losing an election or retiring. Yup, looking out for their constituents. What a crock our political masters have become.

  • Uncle Ho

    It took connections to get into the reserves back then. You got your 4A card and didn't go to VN. Now he wants to dress it up.

  • Patrick

    I wasn't aware of that distinction. I thought anyone who served in the military could be considered a veteran. I certainly do understand how the brave men and women who were sent into harms way would consider that an insult, though.

    • corgisrule

      A reserve unit must be activated and working in order to have it's members as veterans. My brother-in-law tried to get VA benefits but was unable to because he was an inactive reservist. An attorney I know – same thing. I am a VN era vet. Never sent overseas or in combat. (A Navy femme) I worked in top secret communications and was aware of a lot of "stuff" before the "war" in the Tonkin Gulf was declared.

  • USMCSniper

    Veteran status” is, according to multiple online government sources (Hint: Search “Determining veteran status”), reserved for a person who served in the ACTIVE military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable. Reservists do not necessarily qualify as"veterans" but the very fact that they served as reservists is honorable and still needs to be respected. Reservists take the same oath and wear the same uniform as active soldiers and marines. Remember many reservists have been activated and served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Although I don't like this guy I can understand how if he served as a reservist and wore the uniform he might refer to himself as a veteran.

  • steven L

    The problem is that Republicans do the same.
    Both sides must be punished.
    Cheating is part of the human genome.

  • Fred

    The term "veteran", as defined by the gov't, includes a minimum time period for active duty – 180 days, I believe. Although I served 6 years in the Reserves because I didn't have 180 days continuous active duty service, I am not considered a veteran. He shouldn't consider himself one either.

  • trickyblain

    Right, left, up or down, anyone who falsely claims veteran status deserves whatever fate they get.

    That said, for a while there, Trzupek wrote almost daily columns here. All of them focused on "excessive" regulations on his friends in big oil and energy. Whatever couldd've happened that would cause he and FPM to stop publishing these views?

  • Supramom2000

    I don't like the man at all, nor the way he handled himself. But I take exception to not being called a veteran after serving 15 years in the Reserves. And yes it was during Iraq and Afghanistan. But I never was called up and left after the birth of my baby in 2005. I deployed overseas and to South America several times for Annual Training missions and spent 5 months at my Offcer Basic Course and 2 months at my Officer's Advanced Course. I drilled every weekend and worked numerous extra hours as a commander and then as a staff officer. I believe that entitles me to the term veteran. Not combat veteran, but yes… Veteran.

  • Judahlevi

    I agree with Supramom that this guy was acting like a jerk and deserves to be put in his place for it but a active reserve officer or enlisted person should be able to call themselves a veteran. I served for three years of active duty and 15 months overseas as a US Marine NCO but I call anyone who enlisted and served honorably, whether in the reserves or active duty, a veteran.

    Every reservist knows they can be called to active duty at any time. Like those of us who served in active duty, they also volunteered to serve their country and know they can be called on to risk their lives just as many National Guard and Reservists are today.

    I think we are getting a little too technical here.

  • Bogiewheel

    One of the reasons Congress no longer declares War is to protect scum like Phil Hare and his fellow travelers. Kerry and Fonda would be where they belong.

  • Allan

    I know Phil Hare. He is a good guy who cares about his constituents and is very strong on veteran issues. Phil visited Israel 2 years ago – I briefed him before he went – and he returned to become one of the strongest Israel supporters in Congress.

  • J. Tripp

    HEY SPRINGER,
    WHOEVER YOU ARE PLEASE REFRAIN FROM POSTING COMMENTS YOU OBVIOUSLY KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. PERHAPS YOU SHOULD RESEARCH THE COMBAT VETERANS MOTORCYCLE ASSOCIATION BEFORE YOU GO MOUTHING OFF ABOUT THEM ON A PUBLIC FORUM. PERHAPS IF YOU READ THE BYLAWS OF THE ASSN YOU WOULD KNOW WHAT THE REQUIREMENTS ARE TO BECOME A MEMBER. SOUNDS TO ME LIKE YOU ARE BUTT-HURT BECAUSE YOUR BUDDY (PROBABLY YOU!) FAILED TO COMPLETE APPLICATION PROPERLY AND WAS NOT ACCEPTED AS A MEMBER, AND NOW YOU WANT TO GO SPREAD LIES AND RUMORS. THE CVMA DOES ALOT OF GREAT THINGS TO HELP VETERANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ANDIT IS WRONG OF YOU TO TRY TO USE THIS FORUM AS MEANS OF YOUR OWN PERSONAL ATTACK!

  • hammer

    I served as a guard at the PX in the Green Zone. I belong to the Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association. I used to be commander of the R.I. CVMA chapter 9-1. I cannot keep my nose out of matters that does not involve me. I like people to think I am Rambo.

  • gizmo

    Thats funny hammer I was a desk jockey in the green zone. I never went outside of the wire and I am a state rep in Rhode Island for the Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association. I tell most people I was a sniper.

  • pointman

    Let me ask you J. Tripp, are you a combat veteran? Not a guy who rides a bike and wears a patch claiming to be a Combat Vet but one that was actually in combat? Do you have a combat badge, a real one with orders or a medal with a v device? Those people above are right Tripp about stealing valor from real combat veterans. Seems the CVMA should change its name to war veterans because most are exactly that, people who served their country in a war zone. Which is nothing to be ashamed about. Why claim to be combat veterans when most were not?

    • DezRAT

      I didn't get a V device, yet I was in actual combat………are you going to shun me cuz of that? And the funny thing is I don't have to prove anything to anyone……did a job, period. Stealing valor? I don't see it that way, now I see it if they claim the awards and were never awarded….I have a major problem with that. As for the CVMA…..never seen anyone claim anything, except trying to help other Vets…..which is something WE ALL MUST DO……"A nation that forgets its soldiers, is a nation doomed for failure." Spoken by a well educated individual……

  • lan astaslem

    Phil Hare a veteran? This is silly. Based on the pathetic reasoning that he could have been called to active duty so he's a vet any male American who, upon turning 18, registers in case the government decides to reinstates the draft is a veteran. I guess President Obama is now a veteran since he is commander in chief of the armed forces.

  • Eric

    What a great read, this was truly an entertaining article.
    Las Vegas chiropractor

  • Karl

    I also served in the reserves and take issue with your "phony veteran" remark. If these congressman are claiming service in Vietnam, which didn't happen, then the article should be titled "Another Phony Vietnam Veteran." What you're talking about is "veteran status" which decides who gets retirement benefits, extra points on a govt job application, student aid, etc.. A "veteran" is anyone who enlisted or was commissioned and served in the military; active, reserve or guard. My discharge was honorable and although "veteran status" may be lost for a discharge "other than honorable", regardless of combat duty or active duty, the term "veteran"remains. Likewise for a combat vet that was wounded and medically discharged with less than 180 days of active duty.

  • http://www.dog-training-world.com Peggy Why

    I don´t need the free chapters to know that you are a brilliant dog trainer. Just the free videos have helped me so much with my puppy.

  • http://www.mercurytaxisoftware.co.uk Taxi Software

    Maybe he was having a bad day but i dont like him at all. But great article anyway.