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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Jayne: Joe Kent is unbelievable

By Greg Jayne
Published: October 30, 2022, 6:01am

Ask yourself some questions — and be honest about the answers:

Have you ever misidentified your employer? Have you done it more than 30 times? Do you know anybody who has?

Those questions are relevant to our current congressional election. But there are more.

Queries such as, have you ever worked for a company that is untraceable online, leaving virtually no clue to its existence? And would you take a job with such a company? It seems that being incognito is a poor way to attract clients and customers.

All of which leads to serious doubts about Republican candidate Joe Kent, a former Green Beret and CIA employee. As first reported by the Daily Beast, Kent apparently can’t keep straight who is paying him more than $100,000 a year.

On 34 political donations, two personal financial disclosures and in public, he has misidentified his employer as American Enterprise Solutions. When the Daily Beast was unable to confirm the existence of the company, Kent said it was, in fact, Advanced Enterprise Solutions.

Mistakes can happen. But if I accidentally wrote in a column that I worked for The Washington Post, you can bet it wouldn’t happen again. Most people tend to be pretty clear about who signs their checks and puts food on their table.

In one public forum in May, Kent told the audience that the company is “American Enterprise Solutions” and they “do a wide variety of 5G conversion type of stuff.” In another forum, he said, “we have a lot of proprietary software.” But, according to the Daily Beast, “American Enterprise Solutions holds no patents or trademarks, has no licenses, no website, no social media pages, and not a single publicly announced contract with a government agency or a private wireless provider.”

The Kent campaign initially called the report “fraudulent” but then said the candidate was simply confused because the company changed its name a while back. As of Wednesday, Virginia’s State Corporation Commission had listed Advanced Enterprise Solutions Group LLC, a Delaware company operating in Virginia, as “pending inactive” because its annual registration fee was past due. On Thursday, the status had been updated to “active.” Apparently, the scrutiny reminded somebody to send in a check.

Meanwhile, Kent’s former campaign manager, Byron Sanford, told the Daily Beast that the candidate did not spend any time working at his supposed job. “I made his schedule, there simply wasn’t any time in the day,” Sanford said. “I think he’s just paid a six-figure salary so he can campaign.”

During a candidate forum Friday on KGW, Kent noted, “And I fired him for not doing enough work for me.” That’s a good line — and a valid point.

Now, you might not care about all this. Accusations from left-leaning publications and fired campaign managers should be taken with a grain of salt when discussing a far-right candidate. But it seems that voters in the 3rd Congressional District should care a great deal about Kent’s truthiness problem.

Throughout the campaign, Kent has insisted that the 2020 election was fraudulent and that the presidency was stolen from Donald Trump. In the Voters’ Pamphlet, his list of priorities includes: “Investigating the 2020 general election, election integrity laws and impeaching Biden and Harris immediately.” But at a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Kent said he recognizes Biden as the “lawfully elected president.”

He also has been outspoken in support of people charged with attacking the U.S. Capitol, calling them “political prisoners.” But when asked at the debate to “characterize the individuals who tried to stop the transfer of power at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and who have to date been arrested and convicted,” Kent responded, “felons.”

Kent has been in the spotlight for more than a year since announcing his candidacy. But despite all the publicity, there is another question that demands an honest answer: Do we really know him?