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Candidate 'war veteran' and 'Harvard degree' claims challenged

RAW STORY
Published: Wednesday August 2, 2006

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A GOP challenger to Rep. Alan Mohollan (D-WV) has come under scrutiny after accusations he falsely claimed to be a veteran of the first Gulf war. Republican candidate Chris Wakim (right) has also been questioned about the type of graduate degree he received from Harvard University, ROLL CALL is reporting today.

Wakim currently serves as a member of the House of Delegates in West Virginia.

He has claimed to be a veteran of the first Gulf War, honorably discharged for injuries sustained "in the line of duty." However, the Delegate was actually stationed at Fort Devens in Massachusetts from 1988 to 1991, the period encompassing the war.

Waskim has also been questioned about his claim of earning a “Masters Degree in Public Policy from Harvard.” Wakim did not attend Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the only school at Harvard that awards such a degree. ROLL CALL reports he “graduated from the Harvard Extension School, and he received a Masters in Liberal Arts.” Harvard Extension School has open enrollment, meaning everyone is accepted for courses. The school is not a part of Harvard University, although the two schools are affiliated.

Excerpts from the registration-restricted article follow:

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Wakim, a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates for the past four years, said in his official campaign biography that he is a “Gulf War veteran,” and he repeated the claim in a speech to the American Legion on May 29 and in other public appearances and interviews. The National Republican Congressional Committee, in its own release, called Wakim a “disabled Gulf War veteran honorably discharged for injuries sustained in the line of duty.”

Wakim, however, actually was stationed at Fort Devens in Massachusetts from 1988 to 1991, and he never went to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or the Persian Gulf region during the war, which lasted from August 1990 to April 1991.

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Wakim also was asked by reporters to explain his claim to have earned an [sic] master’s degree in public policy from Harvard. Only the prestigious John F. Kennedy School of Government can award such a graduate degree.

Wakim, though, did not attend the Kennedy School. Instead, he graduated from the Harvard Extension School, and he received a “Masters in Liberal Arts.”

The Harvard Extension School, which is affiliated with but not part of Harvard University, has an “open” enrollment policy, meaning that anyone can take its courses, while the Kennedy School is much more exclusive.