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Orrin Hatch Wants To Make It Illegal To Be Richard Blumenthal Or Mark Kirk

Connecticut Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal and Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk have both made themselves infamous by misrepresenting their military records. Now, Utah’s Orrin Hatch wants to do something about it:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a proposal in the Senate this week that would make it a crime — punishable with up to six months in prison — to make inaccurate or misleading statements about one’s military service record.

The Stolen Valor Act from Hatch comes one week after Democratic candidate for Senate in Connecticut Richard Blumenthal was exposed as having misstated his service record during the Vietnam War.

“It is sad that there are those who attempt to inflate their record and make these claims,” Hatch said in discussing the intent of his proposal. “To do that defiles the sacrifice and service of those who have served in combat. Worse yet, it dishonors the sacrifice of the brave men and women in uniform who have given their lives in combat so that the freedoms we enjoy are defended.”

Hatch introduced the legislation as an amendment to a supplementary war spending bill currently being debated in the Senate.

Hatch actually introduced the bill before the revelations about Mark Kirk claiming a military award he never received became public, but the text of the proposed law would clearly apply to his situation as much as it would apply to Blumenthal’s.

Hatch’s bill strikes me as supremely silly. Do we really need to task Federal law enforcement with the job of tracking down every instance in which someone has lied about their military service ? Is it really worth the Courtroom time ?

If the Blumenthal and Kirk episodes show us anything, it’s the fact that someone who lies like this will eventually get caught. They will suffer social sanctions and, if the voters of Connecticut or Illinois feel strongly enough about it, they’ll lose their elections. There’s no need to make it a crime.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    Yeah, I don’t really see how this directly infringes on anybody else’s rights. It’s not like impersonating an officer, where somebody might submit themselves to be arrested.

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  2. Andy says:

    “Hatch actually introduced the bill before the revelations about Mark Kirk claiming a military award he never received became public”

    Doubtless the key fact here.

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  3. Ben says:

    This is basically yet another instance of Congress taking the scandal of the week, and using it to make yet another vague federal crime, most of which are only enforced when they don’t like someone and feel like making that person’s lives hell by charging them with SOMETHING/ANYTHING. Three felonies a day, indeed. I wonder if that certain sector that have newly discovered their small government bona fides will come out and oppose this bill?

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  4. Don says:

    I don’t think a law is necessary but I think it should become a part of the oath of office for politicians or for that fact, anyone that works for the government. Misstating, aka lying, about ones military career shows a serious flaw in ones character and should be, if nothing else, a warning sign.

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