July 10, 2012 — -- A candidate for the United States Congress has dropped out of his race in the wake of reports that he lied about his military record, specifically that he was a soldier in the Army's Special Forces when he never completed the necessary training.
Ken Aden, the Democratic nominee to represent Arkansas' Third Congressional District, said in a statement Monday that the questions raised regarding his record created a "tremendous distraction" for his campaign and that he was withdrawing from the race.
Aden, whose military records show was active in the Army for more than 10 years before being honorably discharged in December 2010, campaigned as having been a member of the world-renown Green Berets, saying in one interview posted on YouTube in February, "I finished up my time, my tour of duty, with, um, you know, Green Berets, Special Forces."
But less than two weeks ago, after various military blog sites began raising questions about his military background, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ran a report based on documents it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that revealed that Aden had failed out of Special Forces training and was removed from the program before ever being awarded a green beret.
Dave Chace, a spokesperson for the Special Warfare Center that trains Special Forces soldiers and personnel, told ABC News that Aden failed out of the training three times -- each for academic reasons -- before ultimately being removed from the program in April 2008, without ever being awarded a beret.
Aden has released his military record, which shows that he passed the weapons sergeant portion of his training, and told the Democrat-Gazette that that was proof of his qualification as a Special Forces soldier.
But Chace said that the designation was an "administrative error" that was recently revoked and that at the time of his removal Aden signed documents saying he acknowledged he was being removed from the program, leaving little room for confusion over whether he was qualified as a Green Beret.
Aden reportedly told the Democrat-Gazette that it was an injury sustained when his hand was crushed in a weapons vault door that kept him from being assigned to a Special Forces unit.
"I pleaded my case, I argued my case to stay in," he said, according to the paper.
Aden did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this report. In his statement Monday, he said, "I sincerely regret any difficulty that this situation has caused my fellow Democrats, my supporters, and staff."
The Arkansas Democratic Party said that they will not be replacing Aden in the race to unseat freshman Republican Congressman Steve Womack, according to the ABC News affiliate in Little Rock, KATV.
The Aden controversy comes just one month after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, which had made it illegal to wear or claim to have won military ribbons or medals that were not earned, saying that it violated the First Amendment's free speech clause -- in essence, the right to lie.
The case was brought to the court by Xavier Alvarez, who challenged the law after being convicted in 2007 for lying about winning the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.
"Lying is protected as a general principle," Alvarez's attorney, Jonathan Libby, told ABC News.