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GOP opponent claims front-runner Mark Kirk is gay in attack ad

December 28, 2009

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, the front-runner in the Republican primary election for U.S. Senate, finds himself the object of an unusual attack ad from one of his lesser-known opponents.

Andy Martin, once known as Anthony Martin-Trigona, who has run for numerous elective offices over the last three decades in Illinois, Florida and Connecticut, taped a commercial questioning whether Kirk is gay.

Martin�s source? Statements some conservative Republicans made on a radio show saying they have heard �rumors� that Kirk is gay.

�Illinois Republican leader Jack Roeser says there is a �solid rumor that Kirk is a homosexual,� � Martin says in the ad. �Roeser suggests that Kirk is part of a Republican Party homosexual club. Lake County Illinois Republican leader Ray True says Kirk has surrounded himself with homosexuals. Mark Kirk should tell Republican voters the truth.�

Kirk, a U.S. Naval Intelligence officer, was unavailable for comment because he is on active duty over the holidays, said spokesman Eric Elk.

But Elk issued this statement on his behalf: �The ad is not true and is degrading to the political process. The people of Illinois deserve better.�

In one of the many e-mails Martin sends to Chicago media � often in the middle of the night � Martin offers links to a tape of a radio show in which Roeser and True did make the comments referenced in the ad.

�You�ve got Mark Kirk, who�s been so strong on his homosexuals so long that the solid rumor is that he himself is a homosexual,� Roeser said on the program.

Martin has long argued in his e-mails that Kirk is gay and that it should be a campaign issue. But Martin has been ignored. What changed Monday morning is that Martin started running radio commercials on WBBM-AM and other major stations, who under federal communication and election laws, must run the ads unedited.

WBBM explained on the air why it felt it was legally obligated to run the ad.

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Patrick Brady blasted Martin and the ad, saying, �The Illinois Republican Party disavows the statements made today by Mr. Andrew Martin in his statewide radio advertisements. His statements today are consistent with his history of bizarre behavior and often times hate-filled speech which has no place in the Illinois Republican Party. Mr. Martin will no longer be recognized as a legitimate Republican candidate by the Illinois Republican Party.�

Kirk launched his candidacy with an endorsement from his ex-wife Kimberly, who he had just recently divorced. She stepped to the podium and said, �I support him 100 percent. He'll make a great senator.�

Kirk, who speaks confidently on the floor of Congress and on the campaign trail about his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, faces five opponents in the Feb. 2 Republican primary.

Martin has never won elective office. He completed law school and passed the bar exam, but the Illinois Supreme Court�s Character and Fitness Committee refused to grant him a law license.

Martin objected at one committee meeting when staffers retrieved a document from his Selective Service file labeling him unfit for military service because of a �moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.� Martin called committee members �scum.�

When reporters report these facts, Martin sometimes sues them alleging libel. His penchant for filing so many lawsuits later dismissed as frivolous has enraged some judges who have held him in contempt of court over the years. Some of his court filings have included anti-semitic comments.

Martin garnered some national attention for pushing rumors that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that the Hawaiian birth certificate Obama posted on his Web site early in his campaign was a fake.

Another candidate in the crowded Republican primary for senate, Patrick Hughes, denounced Martin�s ad, saying, �Republican voters will not support Mark Kirk in the primary because of his liberal voting record, in particular his vote on cap-and-trade. This morning's controversial radio ad is just another personal attack that has no place in this primary and should not be taken seriously by voters.�