BALTIMORE (WBFF) — With the primary election inching closer, there appears to be another example of a gubernatorial candidate allowing an exaggerated narrative to go unchecked, this time about military honors.
Wes Moore, a top-tier candidate in the gubernatorial Democratic primary, made a name for himself as a New York Times Bestselling author. He later became a philanthropic advocate and the CEO of the nonprofit Robin Hood, a large anti-poverty organization based in New York City.
Moore is also a decorated veteran. In 2010, during a book tour event for his first book, The Other Wes Moore, Moore appeared on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. Host Stephen Colbert introduced Moore to the show by rattling off some of Moore’s accomplishments.
“You’re a decorated veteran in the Afghan War, is that correct,” Colbert asked.
“Yes,” Moore said.
“You have a Bronze Star,” Colbert asked as a quick follow-up.
Moore can be seen in the frame of the screen before a camera cut shows just Colbert on camera. Moore appears to nod his head and says yes.
Three years later, an article appears in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel talking about a book tour event Moore was holding in the city. The author of the article calls Moore a Bronze Star recipient.
Two years before the 2010 Colbert Report clip, in 2008, Moore was interviewed by PBS’ Gwen Ifill. The 2008 segment was about veterans who were supporting then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.
While the video attached to the interview wasn’t available on PBS’ website, the transcript showed Ifill too introducing Moore as a veteran who earned a Bronze Star.
FOX45 News reached out to the U.S. Army for confirmation of Moore’s Bronze Star Medal. Sgt. Pablo Saez, a U.S. Army Spokesperson, provided information regarding Moore’s military history, including his deployment to Afghanization from August 2005 to March 2006.
Sgt. Saez said Moore’s awards include: National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device, Army Service Ribbon, and a Parachutist Badge.
“There is no record of a Bronze Star Medal in his file,” Sgt. Saez said.
A spokesperson for the Moore Campaign pushed back on the notion that Moore said he was a Bronze Star recipient himself.
“In hundreds of interviews about his military service and veterans’ advocacy, Wes Moore – a decorated combat veteran who proudly volunteered to lead soldiers in combat with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan – has never claimed to have a Bronze Star,” the spokesperson said.
"Sinclair Broadcast Group’s smear campaign is now seeking to discredit Wes Moore’s honorable and decorated service to his country in combat based off of isolated times other people misstated his record,” the spokesperson continued.
The military honor issue isn’t’ the only time Moore has appeared to not set the record straight. FOX45 News has been investigating Moore’s backstory and found several examples of when the candidate allowed other people to call him born and raised in Baltimore, without correcting the narrative.
In his first book, Moore wrote about how his life was similar but also differed from another man from Baltimore, also named Wes Moore, who is serving life in prison after getting convicted of killing an off-duty Baltimore County officer.
In a 2010 interview with PBS, Moore walked through a Baltimore neighborhood and was introduced by the host as, “Baltimore native Wes Moore.”
“These were the blocks we knew,” Moore said as the pair walked through the streets.
While the website for The Other Wes Moore is no longer active, an archived version of the website included a biography of Moore. In it, it said Moore – and the other Wes Moore – were “two young men from the same city.”
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FOX45 News was unable to find any evidence candidate Moore was born or grew up in Charm City. Our research revealed that he was born in Washington, D.C. briefly lived in Takoma Park, then moved to New York City at a young age where he attended the prestigious Riverdale Country School in the Bronx.
For high school, Moore went to a military academy in Pennsylvania. At this point in Moore’s life, it appears his mother was living in Pasadena; more than 15 miles south of Baltimore City.
According to a 2000 Baltimore Sun article written about Moore winning a Rhodes Scholarship while attending Johns Hopkins University, Moore was an Anne Arundel County resident. While a student at Hopkins, FOX45 News found an address listed for Moore in Baltimore City.
According to a Moore campaign statement, the candidate has “written clearly and passionately about his life and relationship with Baltimore, how he overcame the death of his father and the instability that followed that to become the first Black Rhodes Scholar in the history of Johns Hopkins, an Army combat veteran, small business owner, and a CEO.”
“Wes’ connection with Baltimore dates back to when he was 15 years old and his mom’s first stable job as a single mother moved to Baltimore City. He came of age, built a sense of community here in Baltimore City, and has been a proud Baltimorean for the last 25 years,” the spokesperson continued.
Moore himself has pushed back on claims that he misled the public.
“We lived over in Waverly. So, when I first got a chance to live full-time in Baltimore,” Moore told FOX45 News when asked where in Baltimore City he lived.
When asked when that was, he said, “it wasn’t until I was in college.”
“I do not think I misled the public at all,” Moore said when asked.
The questions about his hometown story were amplified when an anonymous dossier was circulated among political insiders with details Moore’s personal backstory as well. In early April, Moore’s filed a formal complaint with the Maryland State Board of Elections and the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor, requesting an investigation.
“Regrettably, it has become known to Wes Moore for Maryland that a rival campaign may be responsible for this smear campaign,” Amanda La Forge, attorney for Moore’s campaign, wrote in the letter. “By this complaint, the ‘Moore Campaign’ asks that the Office of the State Prosecutor and the State Board of Elections take immediate actions to investigate and sanction this unlawful behavior and to ensure full compliance with the law.”
A spokesperson for Wes Moore’s campaign issued a statement, doubling down on the intent behind the request for the investigation into who put the dossier together and the allegations included.
“This attempt to put Wes Moore’s childhood trauma under a microscope neatly aligns with blatant dog whistles and other mischaracterizations of Wes’ childhood that have been circulating for months and that are now the subject of a criminal investigation by the State Prosecutor’s Office,” the spokesperson said via statement.
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