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Buck-Taylor Supports Bill Criminalizing False Representation of Military Awards

April 30, 2014

HARTFORD — State Rep. Cecilia Buck-Taylor this week voted for legislation that defines the crime of falsely representing oneself as having a military medal or decoration, or wearing a uniform of one of the armed forces that one is not authorized to wear in order to fraudulently obtain money, property, or other goods or services.

“Faking military service goes far beyond simple disrespect to the men and women who have served on our behalf with honor and distinction,” Buck-Taylor, a member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said after her vote Wednesday. “Masquerading as a veteran to commit fraud takes it to an even lower level—it’s a more repulsive act that in my opinion demands prosecution.”

The “Stolen Valor” bill, co-sponsored by Buck-Taylor, is in response to the U. S. Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Alvarez which stated that the federal military medal misrepresentation statute was unconstitutional because it violated a person’s First Amendment right to free speech. The plurality opinion stated there is no general First Amendment exception for false statements, but acknowledged there are many laws punishing or criminalizing false statements that cause definite and identifiable harm through fraud.

There are many opportunities meant for legitimate veterans such as those for veteran-owned businesses and service-disabled veterans which should be protected and preserved for those they are intended to help, Buck-Taylor said.

The legislation (H.B. 5293) is supported by the Connecticut Veterans Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the House approved the bill in 143-0 vote, sending it to the state senate for further action.