Disgraced former Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger served on the board of Ripley's Heroes, the group that featured James Vasquez, an American man recently exposed as a stolen valor fraudster who touted he had "taken out 7 Russian tanks" while fighting on behalf of Ukraine in 2022.
The New York Times has reported that Ripley's Heroes is under federal investigation for export violations. Ripley's Heroes also admitted to funneling money to a for-profit company.
Another Ripley's Heroes worker, Rip Rawlings, wrote in September 2022, "With great appreciation we'd like to announce today that Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Illinois 16th District) will join Ripley's Heroes on our Board of Advisors. His dedication to Ukraine and solid service to America greatly enhances our mission."
Ripley's Heroes claims on their website to "provide critically needed non-lethal and humanitarian resources to qualified and experienced heroes who have interrupted their own lives, and put themselves in harm's way, to help save others," and lists Vasquez as one of their "heroes."
Ripley's Heroes have applied for 501(c)3 status with the IRS, and despite that application not yet being approved, they are collecting donations.
Jordan Schachtel wrote on Twitter that "Kinzinger was ON THE BOARD of the Ukraine org that scammed people out of millions of dollars!" and "there is now an ongoing federal investigation into Ripley's."
Kinzinger posed in pictures with Vasquez and advocated for Twitter to verify his account. Newsweek ran a story about Vasquez and his actions with the Ukraine military and Malcolm Nance, who has also been accused of stolen valor, spoke out on his behalf.
The former congressman said last year that Vasquez was "legit," and "too many folks are trying to create fake acts with him. I have a bill in congress to deal with this... Since this was happening to me for so long."
Vasquez said he "decided to pack up and make his way to Ukraine to fight as a volunteer soldier within the Ukrainian Military" and later claimed he'd "taken out 7 Russian tanks" fighting alongside the Ukrainian Army.
Sarah Ashton-Cirillo posted that Vasquez was guilty of the practice of claiming military valor for one's self despite not having served or "stolen valor." She wrote that while she "won't release private texts," Vasquez had "confirmed to [her] in writing that he does not and has not had a contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine."
Prior to that, she wrote: "As a soldier in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who has to live by the rules of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who has fought and fights at the front for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, I'm done w/ lies. James Vasquez is not and has not been in ZSU. @jmvasquez1974 please get help."
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