House Passes Federal Stolen Valor Act

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)–– Congressman Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) announced that the House of Representatives voted today to pass H.R. 258, the Stolen Valor Act, by a 390 –3 vote. This legislation holds accountable those who try to benefit from false claims of military awards such as the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Purple Heart.  

In June 2012, the United States Supreme Court struck down the original Stolen Valor Act of 2005, declaring the law was in violation of the First Amendment. The law made it a federal misdemeanor to represent oneself falsely as having received U.S. military decorations or medals. The Court determined that simply lying about one’s military service and accomplishments qualifies as protected speech under the constitution.  

This legislation, introduced by Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nevada), resolves the Constitutional issues by requiring a so-called “intent to defraud” provision – meaning the violator had the intention of obtaining money, property, and other tangible benefit as the result of a false claim.  

As a state lawmaker, Cook authored California’s state Stolen Valor Act, which was signed into law. Cook’s state law included an “intent to defraud” provision and has not been challenged in court. 

Cook, who is a co-sponsor of H.R. 258, stated, “This law is long overdue. It’s a continuation of the important work we did at the state level when I was Chairman of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee. The new law ensures that we protect and honor veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made. When people make false claims of military rank and heroism, it does a tremendous disservice not only to our vets, but to the public. I’m extremely glad the bill passed the House and am optimistic that it is on the path to becoming law.” 

A member of the House Armed Services, Veterans’ Affairs, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired as a Colonel after 26 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was awarded the Bronze Star medal with valor device and two Purple Hearts for actions in combat.

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