Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm hoping Steve Oelrich can explain this

Are Steve Oelrich's pants on fire?
An alert reader forwarded me some intriguing information about a dispute between two of the candidates in the Republican Congressional primary in Florida's Third District, and I'm posting it here, hoping that State Senator Steve Oelrich has a good explanation for what seems, at first glance, to be a blatant and cynical distortion of the truth, if not a flat out lie.

Here's the background:

Yesterday, the Steve Oelrich for Congress campaign sent out a press release expressing outrage at a mailer sent by Cliff Stearns, one of Oelrich's primary opponents. Oelrich objects to Stearns' characterization of him as a "Career Public Employee" and states that the reason that he did not serve in the military was because of an injury he received while working as a police officer (emphasis mine):
...The most recent mail piece went too far. Without checking their facts, the Stearns campaign attacked Oelrich for not serving in the military. What he failed to mention is that Oelrich was stabbed near the heart during his service as a police officer and was thus rendered ineligible to serve in the military...
“My father is proud that my brother Ivan and I were able to serve in the military,” stated Marine Sgt. and combat veteran Ken Oelrich. “As a cop, he rarely discusses his injuries and how close he was to death. I didn’t understand why until I served in the Marine Corps. To see a candidate exploit my father’s injuries due to his service in law enforcement is a dishonorable act by anyone who claims to understand veterans, especially those who were injured in the line of duty.” 
The Steve Oelrich for Congress campaign urges Friends of Cliff Stearns Committee to cease mailing this distasteful mail piece and send out a new one to all recipients with an explanation and an apology for the gross misrepresentation of the facts.
Well, that sounds like a legitimate reason to be upset. If Oelrich was injured while serving his community as a police officer, that wouldn't be fair to criticize him if that injury rendered him ineligible for military service, right?

Not so fast. It seems that the injury that made Oelrich ineligible for military service may have pre-dated his law enforcement career.

Embedded below at the end of this post is Steve Oelrich's application to the Florida Bureau of Law Enforcement, dated September 1, 1968. As you can see on page 2, the application indicates that Oelrich had never applied for employment with the FBLE before, and based on his biography on the Florida Senate website, Oelrich graduated from St. Petersburg Junior College in 1968, so the timeline makes sense. In other words, this is the application that Oelrich submitted at the very beginning of his law enforcement career.

Now, what's relevant to the topic at hand is the information on pages 2 and 5:
  • In response to question 6.c., "Have you had any serious illness, operations, or injuries?", Oelrich's response was "Yes, Hunting accident - gunshot wound in right thigh, Nov. '63."
  • In response to question 10.b., Oelrich identifies his Selective Service classification at the time as "1-Y," or "registrant qualified for military service only in time of war or national emergency."
  • In response to question 10.c., Oelrich gives the reason for his 1-Y classification as "Gunshot wound in right thigh."
So, if this document is accurate, that means that Oelrich was ineligible for military service based on a hunting accident that happened when he was a teenager, not because of anything that happened while he was a police officer. (Note: I haven't looked into the circumstances of any injuries Oelrich may have received during his law enforcement career. I'm just focusing on the 1963 injury because it happened first, and seems to have been the deciding factor in Oelrich's military eligibility.)

So what's the story? If Oelrich was already ineligible for military service because of an injury that happened when he was eighteen years old, years before he entered law enforcement, why is he claiming otherwise? Is he hoping it makes him sound more heroic, or trying to get a cheap shot in at his opponent? I think the voters in District 3 deserve an explanation.

I called and left a message with Oelrich's campaign, but have not yet heard back. If I get a response, I'll share it here. In the meantime, here is Oelrich's FBLE application so you can read it and judge for yourself:

UPDATE: I cut and pasted from Oelrich's press release on his website this morning, and it said that he had been "shot near the heart," as originally indicated in my post. Now the press release says "stabbed near the heart," so I've made the correction above. I have no idea whether he was shot, stabbed, or what the story is. All I know is the statement "Oelrich was stabbed near the heart during his service as a police officer and was thus rendered ineligible to serve in the military" (emphasis mine) is directly contradicted by his 1968 FBLE application. For the record, it's after 1:00 pm and I still have not received a response from the campaign.


  1. Whoa. that's not good. I'd like to think this just slipped his mind, but how do you forget getting shot in the leg?

  2. Three possibilities:

    1. Oelrich lied to the Selective Service to avoid the draft.

    2. Oelrich lied on his application to become a police officer.

    2. Oelrich lied on his campaign press release this week.

    Better hope it's #3!

    By the way, did you hear back from the campaign?

    1. See update I just posted above. It's now 1:25 pm ET. No response yet.

    2. Also, you have #2 twice. I assume you meant the 2nd #2? ;)

    3. It seems you missed the final page of his application where he lists the St. Petersburg Police as an employer. Most likely both incidents occurred.

    4. There's no "gotcha" here...

      First, I never said I had any proof that the second incident didn't happen. In fact, I was quite clear in stating that I had not looked into it and had no information about the injury he says happened when he was a police officer. I have no reason to doubt him on that.

      Second, that last page says he was a police officer from March 1967 to September 1968. That's after the 1963 hunting accident.

      Third, if the "stabbed near the heart during his service as a police officer" incident happened during that short stint from 1967-1968, wouldn't that have fallen under the "serious illness, operations, or injuries" that he was supposed to disclose under question 6.c.? Since he didn't list it on this form, it didn't happen then (otherwise he was dishonest when he filled out the form).

      Try harder next time.

  3. Apparently Steve Oelrich is not new to uncovering fabricated (and hidden) pasts of his opponents in past elections. Perhaps this is just karma catching up to him... LOL!,8227609&dq=steve+oelrich&hl=en

  4. I have no love for Congressman Stearns, but Senator Oelrich is a weasel who has no problem playing loose with the truth if it will help him pick up votes...just look at his 2010 campaign and all the things he said about his opponent that turned out false. His chief consultant, a Mr. Wolfson, is as dishonest and dirty as they come. For the life of me, I can't understand why he's running for this seat when he doesn't have a chance in hell of winning. I'd keep a close eye on where the campaign contributions are being funnelled to.


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