WOULD HATCH PROVISION PUNISH KIRK’S DECEPTIONS?…. Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, has run into a little trouble recently about “embellishments” in his military record. One interesting angle to this is whether Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wants to punish him for it.

If you’re just joining us, Kirk, a U.S. Naval Reserve officer, really has served honorably, but he’s also made several claims about his service record that proved to be false. First, Kirk claimed to be “the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.” That turned out to be untrue — Kirk served during the conflict, not in it. Second, Kirk claimed to “command the war room in the Pentagon,” which also turned out to be untrue. Over the weekend we learned that Kirk repeatedly claimed to have received the U.S. Navy’s Intelligence Officer of the Year award, which was also wildly misleading.

This comes on the heels of Hatch’s proposal to make it a crime for someone to knowingly make “a fraudulent statement or representation” regarding his or her record of military service “for the purposes of gaining recognition, honorarium, official office, or other position of authority, employment or other benefit.”

The point, it seemed, was Hatch targeting Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), who misspoke about his service record in a speech eight years ago.

After Hatch unveiled his effort, I asked whether Hatch really wants to subject his GOP allies to a fine and possible jail time? We now have an answer.

Does [Hatch’s] bill apply to Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in the same way it applied to the original target — Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D)? Would Kirk have committed a crime?

The answer, according to Hatch’s office, is no.

“The amendment’s intent is clear – it would make lying about serving in active duty in the military for the purposes of career advancement a misdemeanor,” Hatch spokesman Antonia Ferrier said.

Well, it’s not that clear. Kirk repeatedly made false claims about his service record, as part of his pitch to voters about his qualifications. Did he make “a fraudulent statement” for the purposes of gaining official office? It’s hardly a stretch to make that case.

I think Hatch meant to say that the law would only apply to Democrats, and forgot to include the language in his proposal. An innocent oversight, I’m sure.

For his part, Mark Kirk has not apologized for his falsehoods. Over the weekend, in an attempt at contrition, the Republican told reporters, “When you run for the Senate, you need to begin to talk about your life with absolute precision.”

Apparently, when you run for the House, sloppiness and falsehoods are fine?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.