Blind faith and con men in politics

A few of the posts on this site have been getting a lot of attention from people in Arkansas lately and the Special Operations community, the ones about the young paratrooper who fell out of the sky into Dayton and immediately set up a “non-profit” – “Citizens 4 Change,” to save us from ourselves. His ties to Dayton were, from memory, because a girlfriend’s family was from here- but, it really didn’t matter, because the guy we knew as Kenneth Wade or Kenneth Wade A, is now the Democratic Congressional candidate in Arkansas district 3- running against a Republican incumbent in a Republican District– and making a royal mess of it.

When he pulled up stakes in Dayton, he went to West Memphis, Arkansas, and started with the non-profit thing again- this time as “Residents 4 Arkansas” which lasted about a heartbeat and a half, before he moved across the state to Russellville and decided to run for Congress, now known as Kenneth Aden.

Publicly supplied Photo of Kenneth Wade Aden in military uniform

Ken Wade Aden in uniform, no Special Forces Tab- but, we’re looking at the wrong sleeve.

The mess seems to be that little Kenneth (I say this because of his physical size and his behavior) seems to have a problem with telling the truth. While in Dayton, he never mentioned Special Forces as part of his military service. I knew him as a paratrooper with the 82nd who had served in Iraq. His bio, that I had posted here– from his early congressional site said nothing of SF. But apparently, that wasn’t enough of a military record for Ken- he decided to start telling people he had completed the Q course and was SF qualified- although in his picture in uniform- he doesn’t display the SPECIAL FORCES tab- that’s been the standard since I got out.

Personal note- full disclosure: Just like Ken, I went to the Q Course and for personal reasons, I self-selected out 2 days before the completion of Phase 1- I wasn’t sent to the 82nd- but instead was given orders to serve first with Service Company, 5th Special Forces, and then to Service Company, 7th Special Forces- ostensibly until I would go back through the course. I was a radio operator, 05B, with the 1A4 designator for Morse code, and a paratrooper. At that time, radio operators who could master the dots and dashes were in short supply. I was separated from the Army on Temporary Disability Retirement Leave (TDRL) after an injury that was made worse by poor military medical care (The one time I was proud of the Dayton Daily News was when they did the exposé of military medicine and won the Pulitzer– I could have been a case study), came to Dayton to enroll at Wright State under VA chapter 31 benefits. After 18 months, I was re-evaluated medically, deemed fit for service- given options to return to active duty, separate or enter the Reserves- which was the choice I made. I was  assigned to the 11th Special Forces (Reserve) in Jamestown- where I was placed on an A-team as the secondary radio operator- still not having completed the Q-course. My last quarter of college, due to the demands of work, school and Reserve duty- I separated from the 11th group and never received other orders. My only permanent party duty was served in an SF unit through my entire military career- I have never worn any other patch. Therefore I’ve always said I served with Special Forces- not in it, and have been through enough training to fully understand and respect the mission and to speak with authority on the subject.

Maybe it was because Ken knew his BS wouldn’t fly with me, it never came up in Dayton, but, as it’s been unfolding in Arkansas, the Democrats are now stuck with a candidate suffering from self-inflicted stupidity. His campaign will unlikely raise another dollar, nor will voters take much of what he says seriously. He’s also being accused of embellishing his academic achievements- with claims of degrees and post-grad work that seem hard to verify.

However, Ken, as the eternal optimist that he is, is still going around telling people the sky is green and grass is blue- and that this is all an attempt by the incumbent to “swift boat” him. Last week, his campaign manager quit. And to top it all off, the Army has taken the initiative to issue new orders rescinding what may have been a doctored DD-214 or a clerical error, that had shown Ken as 18B qualified (after I left active duty- the Army changed the SF Q qualification from a designator on your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) to an actual MOS- the 18 series- when I was on active duty I would have been a 05B1a4PK  (or something like that- it’s been 25 years I’m sorry if I don’t remember the exact way it breaks)  but now I’d have been an 18E). Even Aden’s former platoon sergeant pulled a recommendation letter he had submitted in favor of Ken- saying he’d been duped by our con man.

Aden is still not doing the honorable thing and resigning from the campaign to give the people of Arkansas a chance to run someone else. He’s announced an online  town hall for July 11th to clarify matters.

Many veterans are blaming the Supreme Court for dropping the “Stolen Valor” laws against lying about military records– but, if there is one thing I can say about the military- they do keep records- and there are very few things you do solo in the military that can’t be verified that are worth talking about. From my experience, it was even hard to poop in private on most occasions. Lying about your military service almost never works.

The sad thing about all this is that once again, the voters are the ones who get robbed. For a democracy, where the ballot is supposed to give us an opportunity to make changes in leadership and change the course of our nation, very rarely do we feel we’re given choices among the best of what America has to offer.

There is the issue of getting on the ballot, where the two major political parties have monopolized the process and served as gatekeepers to keep people off the ballot. There is the issue of costs to communicate your positions- with the average cost of running for Congress over a million dollars and climbing. We’ve allowed gerrymandering to decide more elections than voters and last but not least, you either have to be an empty suit or a glutton for punishment to put your life under the microscope of public opinion and the political dirty-tricks squads. We’ve almost engineered a system for sociopaths  or megalomaniacs to be the only ones willing to run.

Kenneth Wade or Kenneth Aden isn’t the only questionable person out there. I’ve had to tell a former county employee/school board member not to lie about serving with Special Forces right here in Dayton. We’ve had the local Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance running around behind Rev. Raleigh Trammell for years bullying local politicians and engaging in the joining of church and state (despite their non-profit status) – and finally, it took the FBI to come in and shut down Reverend Trammell for welfare fraud (something he’d already served time for in the late 70’s) only after he practically destroyed the SCLC.  Seriously, who vets the people we elect? Voters aren’t given enough information to even make an informed decision on the ones who make it on the ballot.

We do background checks on teachers, police officers and even little league coaches. We probably should be doing it on most preachers from the history of the Catholic Church and abuse. Shouldn’t we start requiring it of candidates for office?

But then again- we know that once we elect most of them, they become crooks anyway? How else do you explain the fact that our beloved Congressman, Michael Turner, has let his wife serve as a funnel for dirty political money into his household for years? (The no-bid contract for the Dayton Development Coalition was awarded to Lori Turner’s now defunct company- The Turner Effect, as well as work from the Home Depot PAC and the Army Corps of Engineers- on a GSA schedule no less- while he was on the Armed Services Committee- well documented on this site). And, from this header Mike posted on his Facebook account– you’d almost think he served (I chastised him for it and it disappeared)

Facebook header photo that would make you think Mike Turner served in The Air Force

Putting “Michael Turner” and “Serving” and “US Air Force” together is almost “stolen valor”


I’ve had a guy cut my hair who served 18 years for murder who I think I’d trust more than Mike Turner to do the right thing for the people as a congressman. But, he can’t run for Congress- it’s one of the few things that disqualifies you from running.

Kenneth Wade Aden may be a liar, but, as long as we continue to auction off seats in Congress- we’ve got a House full of them.

My advice to the people of Arkansas 3- tell him to stop campaigning and don’t give him another dime, but go ahead and vote for him and send him to D.C.- where he’ll either fit right in- or actually make the rest of them so nervous that things may actually change.


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15 Responses

  1. Pat Offenberger July 7, 2012 / 6:59 pm
    I don’t really view Turner’s picture in front of an Air Force plane as indicative of claiming he served in the military, that simple fact could be gleaned from his bio. That said, whether SCOTUS thinks lying about your military service (or lack of it) is protected speech under the 1st amendment, these jackasses who try to embellish their “resume” with lies piss me off.
    Myself, I was a simple Airborne qualified 81MM & 4.2″ mortarman, eventually advancing to be a Spec-5 crew leader, as I couldn’t claim the title of squad leader because I wasn’t a “hard stripe” E-5. I never attended NCO School.
  2. RB July 7, 2012 / 8:11 pm
    Nicely written blog, Dave!! 
    You said succinctly what we’ve been trying to express in black and white for awhile now. Your personal experience lends much credence to the position we’ve been forced to explain over and over. The squeaky wheel won.
    Come say hi at
    Be sure and find the intro thread for 1st timers.
  3. David Esrati July 7, 2012 / 8:47 pm

    RB- thanks for the comment. I’m not sure I belong on Professional Soldiers- it’s been almost 25 years since I wore a uniform- and it’s not something I wear on my sleeve these days.

    I am active in a group I helped start called where we try to help vets start businesses and work together to grow our own businesses. I invited Ken to a meeting on more than one occasion, he never came.

    @Pat- I agree that posers piss me off. By the time I was in- the only spec 5-7 were in medical, with the lowly Spec 4 still a possibility. In my MOS – that was my final rank. I always hated it. Thank you for your service. Us paratroopers should always stick together.


  4. David Esrati July 7, 2012 / 11:02 pm

    I haven’t spent this much time thinking about my military service in a long time. It’s something I did- because I believed in our country- and I thought it was the right thing to do. I owe the Army a lot – I did a lot of growing up there.

    But, I made some really stupid mistakes when I was 18-19. I was selected out of basic to be a candidate to go to West Point Prep. It was a long process- and despite having high scores and perfect recommendations from my AIT commander, I somehow missed the guidance counselors office- the one where they would have explained that West Point Prep meant instant E-5 pay and a summer trip to Jump School- and then one of the best college educations money can’t buy- as well as a guaranteed chance to go to SF upon graduation.

    Nope- I just wanted to go to jump school and then the Q-course as fast as possible. Stupid me.

    When I got to the Q course, I also missed a bit of advice- ignore the idiots. The bravado and machismo bullshit displayed by my course mates was driving me nuts- as was singing Barry Sadler’s “Ballad of the Green Berets” every morning. I wasn’t there to be a bad ass – I was there to train, to learn, to be able to teach and help people build the nation they wanted. During my individual survival phase, just before the final timed ruck march in- I did a lot of introspection, and basically couldn’t stand the idea of being stuck with some of these idiots for the rest of my military career. (I guess I also wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics- because out of the “100 who started, only 3 would earn the Green Beret”- we’d already thinned our class of 180 to about 90- and almost all would finish phase 1 at this point.

    I had to go meet with Major Howard. We had a little talk. He’d been awarded the medal of honor- and was still one hard core trooper- rucking in to Bragg every week which was a 50 mile hike. He offered to let me go back out to the sticks for another night- complete the few tasks I’d blown off and continue with my training. It wouldn’t have been difficult- but I was young and dumb (once again) and kept thinking of a few guys I’d had in my stick- who seemed to me more like the kind of people I’d like to shoot than have to rely on. I declined and took the ride back to Bragg.

    In the holding company I got approached to work as a rigger, first in the IMA rigging shed- then I got orders to 5th Group. There I was thrust in the middle of a train wreck in progress. Apparently a rigger there had cut some static lines. It was here where I got injured, and ended up in the hospital for a week. There was an ongoing investigation that I was unaware of. I reported what I observed- while I was in the hospital, and next thing you know, I’m in 7th group- first in the riggers shed- then the dive locker. 

    Things went from bad to worse with my injury- and next thing, I’m at Fort Gordon awaiting a medical board and surgery. I end up being placed on TDRL even though I tried to remain in the Army. After 18 months- I’m back in, assigned to 11th Group and placed on a team- with a commo sgt who graduated in the class before me. We were both in the morse code school at Bragg at the same time.

    It was in my time in Service company that I learned that the jerks didn’t make it to the teams- even if they did manage to graduate. I had the honor of working with some really high speed guys in the 7th- and later in the 11th- got a lot of really good training- esp. in pistol shooting from my team CO- who was an Army Pistol Team member.

    While I was building my case to stay in the Army at Ft. Gordon, I took and got pretty good scores on both the FAST test- for Helicopter school and the DLAB- for language school (which was at the Presidio in San Francisco). Neither mattered.

    None of this matters to anyone else- but, the guys at Professional Soldier and SOCnet deserve to know exactly what my record is. I was lucky- when I was in, we weren’t at war- although I had friends who went to Nicaragua and El Salvador and other places we “weren’t” officially there- and four of the guys who died in Grenada worked two huts up from our dive locker and we used to do PT together in the mornings. I feel bad that I don’t even remember their names or faces anymore- I had just gotten to Dayton when that happened- and watched it on the news and thought how screwed up that whole mess was.

    There are a few people from SF that I still thank for their friendship- Jeff Shipley who was from Grove City Ohio- Tim Grystar who was from Chicago and my best friend from the Army- Phil Neiva with whom I still am in contact with off and on. Major Farrell of Svc. Company 7th Group- I shall be forever indebted to for watching out for me- and Maj James Woodham- the SF medic/Doc who helped me both at Bragg and then was at Ft. Gordon.

    All this being said, I made a lot of dumb mistakes in my career during these years. I’ve done my best to put this all behind me and move forward. Some of it will live with me forever- and it all forever changed me.

    I’d ask that I be judged for what I’ve tried to do since then- especially in my fight for open honest government in Dayton Ohio- and in my business, where I’ve tried to mentor as many young talented people so they can avoid some of the career mistakes I’ve made.

    The SFQC is the hardest challenge I’ve ever faced. At one point, on the obstacle course I was running in place and my eyes had rolled back into the back of my head- a medic caught me- made me drink a jerry can of water- and I almost got recycled- but I came back after a half hour sit outside the bolo shack. It was during that day that I avoided getting a nickname that would forever haunt another guy- but, that’s another story.

    I carry a unit coin- because it’s the only unit I ever served permanent party with and I don’t like buying drinks- but, to me- that was another chapter in my life. One that will forever be filled with what ifs and could have beens. Never have I ever come to so many forks in the road- where the choice I made had such an impact in how things turned out.

    end of confession. I am blessed to be nearing 50 and still alive and relatively healthy- and to still have my parents who were there for me, along with one other Army friend- Judy Schiavone to help me through the worst of it.

    added note: I am also grateful for Capt Kimber Latsha- an Army lawyer who believed in me when others didn’t- and 1st Lt. Lynn Langdon- an Army Occupational Therapist who stood up to some very stupid doctors and probably saved my life.

  5. Ice Bandit July 9, 2012 / 12:03 am
    …Ken didn’t tell untruths, dear David, you merely misunderstood his affiliations. Ken said he belonged to “Special Farces,” an improv comedy troupe (in the tradition of the Second City and the Groundlings) with a penchant for the absurd. He also said he was a member of the “Special Fartses,” a support ground for those suffering from chronic flatulence and gastrointestinal distress…
  6. David Esrati July 9, 2012 / 2:12 pm

    This just in- Aden withdraws from race:

    July 9, 2012                            


    Ken Aden Withdraws From Race For Congress

                RUSSELLVILLE—Ken Aden, Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress from Arkansas’ Third Congressional District, on Monday morning announced his intent to withdraw from the race for United States Congress effective at 5 p.m. on Monday, July 9, 2012.
                “Mr. Aden’s campaign has, via overnight mail, submitted the necessary notification prescribed by the Arkansas Code to withdraw from the race for U.S. Congress. A copy of this notification has been provided to the Democratic Party of Arkansas as well,” said Vince Leibowitz, spokesperson for the campaign.
                Aden said he was exiting the race in order to spend more time with his family and to help ensure victory for Democrats across the state in November.
                “Unfortunately, the ongoing saga related to my military records has created a tremendous distraction for our campaign, and I did not want this to have adverse consequences for Democrats across the district or anywhere else in the state,” Aden said.
                “Additionally, as most of you know, I recently became a father for the first time, and I will be exiting this race in order to spend more time with my family,” he continued.
                “I sincerely regret any difficulty that this situation has caused my fellow Democrats, my supporters, and staff. I will continue to remain a loyal Democrat and to my best to help Democrats in win in November,” he concluded.

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Copy of Mr. Aden’s letter to Arkansas Secretary of State notifying the SOS of his withdrawal. A copy of the same has been transmitted to the Democratic Party of Arkansas. 


    Arkansas’s Third Congressional District includes Benton, Carroll, Washington, Pope, Marion, and Boone counties, and parts of Search, Crawford, Sebastian, and Newton Counties.

  7. Hall July 10, 2012 / 1:47 pm
    I suspect you call him delusional in a somewhat facetious manner, but he may very well be just that ! We all know people like him, don’t we ? You know, the type that believes if you repeat a lie “x” number of times, it eventually becomes true. Well, at least *they* think it’s true as they’ve certainly convinced themselves of it !!

    What I’m even more confused about is how someone can move to an entirely new state and generate enough support to run for Congress (not local council, not state congress, but Federal !) and actually seem to be a “contender”.

  8. Donald Phillips July 10, 2012 / 2:16 pm
    Dear Mr. Esrati,

    Your belated martial mea culpa in only honest by virtue of  an omission of certain inconvenient facts. Jacque Derrida couldn’t have done a better job of semantic brinkmanship. So please stop wrapping yourself in a red, white & blue shroud, and kindly cover your stigmata.


    Donald Phillips

    P.S.: You seem to have been what in army parlance is called a “commo maggot”.        

  9. David Esrati July 11, 2012 / 10:12 am

    No mention in the DDN still about this.

    It made the army Times:

    And in a front page story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (still an odd name for a paper if you ask me) both Mayor Leitzel and I were quoted- and it even turns out he lied about the cause of his fathers murder:

    Aden was an organizer of two nonprofit organizations in two states, according to secretary of state records: Citizens 4 Change Dayton in Ohio in 2010 and Residents 4 Arkansas in West Memphis in 2011.

    The Ohio organization was formed to “improve communities by connecting individuals in neighborhoods to solve problems,” according to its incorporation filing. The Arkansas nonprofit had a similar mission in West Memphis.

    Neither of those organizations had federal tax-exempt status, said Michael Devine, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service in St. Louis.

    Gary Leitzell, mayor of Dayton, remembers Aden mostly for his enthusiasm.

    “He had a lot of energy,” Leitzell said. “I felt maybe he was a little over ambitious,maybe a little naive that he could achieve some of the things he wanted to achieve here in Dayton, but I admire his spirit.”

    Aden wanted to set up food pantries in parts of Dayton, Leitzell said, but instead of talking to people who were running similar nonprofit organizations, Aden approached the challenge as if nobody else had thought of helping the needy. There are 1,200 nonprofit organizations in the Dayton area, the mayor said.

    Aden had a youthful optimism that hadn’t been tempered by real-world frustrations, Leitzell said.

    “When you hit brick walls a few times, it humbles you,” the mayor said. “A lot of us were trying to say, ‘There are ways to do things.’”

    Citizens 4 Change Dayton fizzled, Leitzell said. Aden left the organization last year and moved to Arkansas.

    In Ohio, Aden went by the name Ken Wade, Leitzell said. Wade is Aden’s middle name.

    David Esrati, a friend of Aden’s when the two lived in Dayton, remembers Aden’s infectious enthusiasm.

    “I was blown away by the way he walked into town – he actually dropped out of the sky from nowhere – and got people to follow him like little puppy dogs,” Esrati said.

    But Aden isn’t remembered as fondly for his nonprofit efforts in Arkansas.

    Aden planned a run through Crittenden County to raise food for the Good Neighbor Center, said Dana Parker of West Memphis, but the city didn’t want its name affiliated with the effort.

    “When something comes at you real quick and fast, and you don’t know anything about the person, you just get suspicious of it,” said Parker, who is on the board of the Good Neighbor Center, which provides disaster and emergency relief assistance.

    “I’ve always heard the expression, ‘If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.’”

    David Peeples, city attorney in West Memphis, said he called Aden last year and asked him to remove the city’s seal from the Residents 4 Arkansas website, and Aden did.

    The center did get some food donations from Aden’s run, Parker recalled.

    Aden completed a similar run for charity in Northwest Arkansas in late April and early May, his campaign said.

    A May 11 news release from his campaign said 11,500 cans of food Aden collected would go to food banks and food pantries in the 3rd District.

    Lorenzo Parker, parks and recreation director in West Memphis, said Aden’s Arkansas nonprofit planned to help resurface 12 tennis courts at Tilden Rogers Sports Complex last summer, but that never happened.

    “Ken came to a meeting and was going to raise funds for us to redo our tennis court,” Parker said. “He was all gung ho about it, but he never raised a dime. We haven’t heard a word from him since. He just disappeared all at once. The next thing I heard he was running for Congress out of Russellville, Ark.”

    Aden told people in West Memphis that his father lived there, Peeples said.

    A video online at shows Aden talking about Residents 4 Arkansas. In his message to the people of West Memphis, he said crime in the city needs to be addressed.

    “My father was killed on his way to work in West Memphis,” Aden says in the video.

    But according to a Jan. 5, 1995, article in The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Louis Herman Aden, Ken’s father, was shot and killed by his estranged wife when he broke down the door to her trailer in Tyronza in Poinsett County.

    A sheriff’s detective said at the time it was likely to be ruled a justifiable homicide, and Aden said in a Nov. 25 article in the Democrat-Gazette that his stepmother was cleared.

  10. Hall July 11, 2012 / 10:31 am
    You call him “delusional” but he may simply be the type of person who tells so many stories (i.e. “lies”) that eventually they believe the lies themselves ! 

    What I want to know is how he was able to develop a reasonable following and gain as much support as he did in such a short time. Not to mention the fact that he was a newcomer to the Arkansas community. 

  11. Hall July 11, 2012 / 4:50 pm
    “No mention in the DDN still about this.”

    It is an Arkansas story after all…. Just because Ken was in Dayton for a short period of time doesn’t mean te DDN should care. 

  12. Bellesouth July 11, 2012 / 11:49 pm
    We used to have two large papers in Arkansas: The Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette. About 20 years ago the Gazette tanked and the Democrat bought all its assets. So that’s why you have the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. There are much longer stories that go along with that merge but it’s not unheard of when it comes to hyphenated names of papers. The Democrat tended to lean to the right and the Gazette tended to lean to the left. A bunch of the Gazette people went on to make the Arkansas Times into a weekly, but now they’re all owned by the same company. Such is the way of the newspaper.

    Meanwhile, here in the third district, Aden’s camp wants to sweep everything under the rug. “Move on,” they say, as if nothing ever happened or that he doesn’t have to explain himself to anyone – no matter how much money they gave him.

  13. Ice Bandit July 12, 2012 / 5:45 am
    …this story now has legs like Ann Coulter. The story of Ken the Equivocator and his deflated political career received time of Fox News Wednesday morning. Keep breaking stories like this dear David, and we’ll be watching “the Esrati Factor” (praising the virtues of limited government and minimal taxation, no doubt) in a time slot between O’Reilly and Hannity…

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