2013 Stolen Valor Act passes House

| May 21, 2013

The Associated Press reports that the House has passed the latest version of the Stolen Valor Act in a 390-3 vote. 40 members of Congress didn’t vote, the three who voted against it were Justin Amash (R-MI), Paul Broun (R-GA), and Thomas Massie (R-KY). Here’s the roll call vote.

This is probably the best bill that we could get, considering that the Supreme Court said that last version violated the First Amendment. But, as I’ve said in the past the bill, is just a lawyer employment act. The bill, which amends Section 704 of title 18, United States Code, says;

Fraudulent Representations About Receipt of Military Decorations or Medals- Whoever, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds oneself out to be a recipient of a decoration or medal described in subsection (c)(2) or (d) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than one year, or both.’

What is a “tangible benefit”? Can it include scoring with a hot chick in a bar with whom you wouldn’t have had a shot without your phony SEAL persona? I’ve had two car salesmen tell me they were Special Forces in order to convince me that I should buy a car from them. Is that a tangible benefit?

There is a bill in the Senate, S.210, with similar language awaiting a vote. The bill certainly won’t hinder our work here at This Ain’t Hell, mostly because of the ambiguous language. The Valor thieves misinterpreted the Supreme Court’s decision, you can count on them thinking they’re smarter than Congress, too.

Category: Stolen Valor Act

Comments (15)

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  1. Hondo says:

    Jonn: hate to say it, but at this point IMO it’s an open question as to whether or not the average valor thief is dumber than some in Congress.

  2. Twist says:

    Every cab driver outside Ft Benning claims to be either a retired CSM or retired Special Forces.

  3. USMCE8Ret says:

    Jonn – You mentioned, “I’ve had two car salesmen tell me they were Special Forces in order to convince me that I should buy a car from them. Is that a tangible benefit?”

    I’d say the tangible benefit that is implied is if you were to buy a car from them, they get commission for the sale.

    In my mind, there is a tangible benefit attached.

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    “Whoever, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds oneself out to be a recipient”

    Well, it won’t stop the dress-up clowns, but it does make profiting from stolen valor a punishable offense. The tangible benefits can include claiming to be a Purple Heart recipient to get a free license plate, e.g. Shame Ladner.

    It’s certanly better than nothing at all. It might even stop idiots like Kerry from lying about their service.

    Hondo, it’s a tossup who is the dumber of the two. Has to do with the greed and look-at-me factors.

  5. ChipNASA says:

    At least it’s a start.
    Yay House.
    Let’s just hope the Senate is on board as well.
    Do we have any guidance on that? Shouldn’t they pass this same bill on or do they have to approve their version of this and then it goes to the president for his signature?

  6. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    What is a “tangible benefit”? Can it include scoring with a hot chick in a bar with whom you wouldn’t have had a shot without your phony SEAL persona?

    It depends if she’s as good as she looks, it’s not a benefit if she’s like a dead fish in the sack…

    On topic, basically this adds a layer of criminality to existing fraud statutes. It’s already a crime to misrepresent yourself as holding a degree in business planning in order to obtain startup money for your small or large business. It’s already a crime to say that because of your (fake) military honors you are entitled to government money in the form of benefits or access to government contract work.

    This is probably the best bill that we could get, considering that the Supreme Court said that last version violated the First Amendment.

    Right, it’s like being the tallest dwarf….not much of a prize really.

  7. Green Thumb says:

    Someone should probably forward this to Poser Phil Monkress.

  8. USAF says:

    Here is Justin Amash’s reason for voting “No”. He explains everyone of his votes. You might not agree with him on certain things, he does take the time to post why he voted.

    https://www.facebook.com/repjustinamash/posts/445131135526298

  9. Sparks says:

    The two car salesmen do constitute “tangible benefit” because they reap monetary reward for the lie. I have read a lot about this and it seems “tangible benefit” could be, adding phoney info to a resume for a job, gaining access to groups or organizations, for and by, phoney personal notoriety (charities that collect monies), adding phoney info to school or loan applications. But I regret that simple trying to score some trim in a bar doesn’t appear to count as a “tangible benefit”. That is where they separated the older bill from the new by allowing the freedom of speech aspect to remain untouched but adding “money, property or other tangible benefits”. I am not a lawyer by any means. This is just gleaned from my reading. I am saddened that the original bill was overturned. Lying is lying. Lying about stolen valor should be one of the highest forms of the offense. But at least this new bill passed and I am glad for that.

  10. Sparks says:

    Justin Amash’s ending words in his reason for voting no,

    “Lying about being awarded military medals is despicable. People who do that should be ridiculed and called out for their false statements. But in this country, we don’t criminalize this type of speech. If listeners suffer real injuries due to the false speech, for example, by giving money to the alleged medal winner, the speaker has violated the law—it’s called fraud. This bill, like the 2005 law, seeks to criminalize mere speech without the need to show that someone was injured by relying on the speech. That’s outside of our prized tradition of free speech, and that’s contrary to the First Amendment.”

    I think he believes he took the Constitutional protection, high road but he missed the point entirely.

  11. Beretverde says:

    I’m with ChipNASA…it’s a start. I’m sure many FBI Agents are groaning at this turn of events. They seem to have better things to do and have told me on more than one occasion…especially the Atlanta,Baltimore and Charlotte offices. The Denver Office is probably licking their chops-they are outstanding on Stolen Valor!

  12. Sparks says:

    What are the odds that Obama will not sign this if it makes it through the Senate? It would keep his liberal congress members who voted against it happy. All he has to do is take the Justin Amash opinion that the Supreme Court’s original decision is good enough. I would not put it past him.

  13. Flagwaver says:

    I’m more concerned with what riders those libtarded congress critters will try to put on it before throwing it back at the House.

  14. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Here’s a good example of a tangible benefit: “In 2003, 642 Virginia residents sought an exemption from state tax on military benefits by claiming to have received the Medal of Honor despite the fact that at the time, there were only four living Medal of Honor recipients in Virginia and 132 nationwide.” Source: LA Times 13 Sept 2012

    As one or two may recall, I was fairly confident that the original SV Act would be overturned because the prohibited act (lying) was not connected to the liar’s attempt to defraud. This bill fixes that deficiency and the “other tangible benefits” language doesn’t bother me so much. My guess is that the language will not survive a constitutional challenge because it is vague (“void for vagueness” is the usual conclusion with such a problem.) The remainder of the bill should stand.