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Kathy Barnette has seen a dramatic surge in recent polls in the U.S. Senate primary in Pennsylvania that was previously seen as a two-man race, but the Republican underdog is now facing new scrutiny about her background.
In the latest Fox News poll released this week, Barnette jumped ten points since March, just one point behind Dave McCormick and three points behind the Trump-backed Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Now on the cusp of potentially pulling a major upset in the multimillion-dollar primary, two reports published by the Washington Examiner and the Washington Free Beacon, allege the Barnette campaign has not been forthcoming with their inquiries, particularly pertaining to her military career.
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According to her biography on her campaign website bio, Barnette “served her country proudly for ten years in the Armed Forces Reserves, where she was accepted into Officer Candidacy School.” Campaign ads also feature her in uniform.
Additionally, Barnette’s bio touts she was “the first in her family to graduate from college achieving a bachelor in Finance and eventually earning her Master’s degree” and worked in corporate America in the comptroller’s department at J.C.Penney” and “as an adjunct professor of Corporate Finance.”
However, a reporter from Free Beacon alleged Barnette’s campaign manager abruptly ended a phone call when he requested her DD214, a routine military form filled out when one leaves active duty which would reveal her time of service, which branch she served and information about her discharge.
“While there is no indication that Barnette has mischaracterized her service, it is standard practice for a campaign to substantiate a candidate’s claims with such government documents,” Free Beacon reporter Chuck Ross wrote on Wednesday. “Barnette’s campaign manager, Bob Gillies, ended a phone call with the Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday when asked whether she will release her DD form and did not respond to subsequent text messages requesting it.”
A separate report released by the Washington Examiner alleged the Barnette campaign similarly avoided questions about her background.
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“A series of questions asked both verbally and in a text exchange with her campaign manager about her background for a story that was supposed to be a profile went unanswered with the exception of one — but that too was vague,” Examiner reporter Salena Zito wrote. “When asked about her military service, the answer was: ‘Kathy noted basic training was Fort Dix, Army Reserves.’”
Zito listed the inquiries she had sent to the Barnette campaign, which were to name her hometown, where and when she worked as an adjunct professor, when she was in officer candidate school, which financial institutions she worked for, when she moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania- noting her book bio says from 2018 she lived in Virginia, and to confirm whether Troy State University was the college she attended.
Her campaign manager replied, “Kathy keeps her early life as private as possible as I am sure you can understand why,” alluding to her life story about how she was a child of rape.
“She could be hiding nothing. She could be hiding everything. We don’t know because there are no answers,” Zito noted. “While people hold a strong distaste for the press, many level-headed conservatives who really want to win this seat in November want to know as much as they can about each candidate.”
“While voters may have been turned off by the battle for the primary between Oz and McCormick, the truth is both of these men have faced incredible scrutiny by both the press and their opposing campaigns… Barnette has benefited from several things: little scrutiny and the rock-em-sock-em nature of the battle between Oz and McCormick that has been escalated by the proxy war between Trump and the Club for Growth,” Zito added.
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As both reports began going viral on Wednesday, Barnette released her NGB-22 form which documents her seven years, seven months and 12 days in the Army National Guard and that she received an honorable discharge, though it is different from the DD214 that was previously requested by the Free Beacon and the Examiner.
On Thursday, Barnette appeared on Philadelphia’s talk radio program “The Rich Zeoli Show” where she was confronted about the looming questions.
Barnette said she “started” in the Army for three years before joining the Army National Guard and then “finished” in the Army, insisting her record in the military is public knowledge and that the National Guard “does not have DD214.”
Zeoli then pulled up the list of questions Zito asked Barnette’s campaign to have the candidate answer them herself, though she took a swipe at Zito alleging her report was published “minutes” after she sent her questions to the campaign.
Barnette told Zeoli her hometown was Nichburg, Alabama, which she said is now called Repton. When asked where and when she was an adjunct professor, Barnette said Justin University in Illinois but told Zeoli she doesn’t remember the time frame. Regarding the financial institutions she worked for, Barnette replied A.G. Edwards and Sons and Bank of America Capital Asset Management, which were both listed on her campaign website bio. She also confirmed she graduated from Troy State University.
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“Again,” Zeoli said, “don’t get mad at me for asking-”
“I’m not!” Barnette replied before laughing. “These are relevant questions. I know, right? It’s as if I’m hiding something!”
When asked when she moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania as alleged in her book, Barnette told Zeoli she never lived in Virginia and what was in her book was a “typo” discovered after the book was printed but added that she’s been living in Pennsylvania for over nine years.
Zeoli then asked her whether she had a DD214 to release. Barnette says she had one pertaining to her “first three years” and pointed to the release of her NGB-22, but did not directly respond to the radio host’s question.
Before the interview ended, Barnette told Zeoli that “the people of Pennsylvania have vetted me” over the course of her 13-month campaign, and they have said “this is our candidate.”
“This is your chance best… I am your best chance at ever getting anyone in office who will actually listen to you,” Barnette told Pennsylvania voters.
The Barnette campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News’ multiple requests for comment.