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Let's add this one to the Big Book Of Scandal Management: If you have a run-in with the law, do not explain it away by pretending to have fought in a war you didn't fight in. Rhode Island State Rep. Daniel Gordon is learning that one the hard way; Gordon was arrested recently on charges that he was involved in a 2008 police chase in Massachusetts. The arrest brought to light a four-month jail stint he'd served in 1999 for assault.
Amid calls for his resignation, Gordon said his problems were the result of alcoholism, which in turn was caused by PTSD suffered in the Gulf War. But the AP obtained his military records, and discovered that though he'd been a military aircraft technician, he'd never been near a battlefield—his only overseas assignment was in Japan. WPRI 12 then discovered that he hadn't been awarded the Purple Heart either, further puncturing his story that he'd been wounded by shrapnel in Baghdad.
But the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit begs to differ. In a decision released on Tuesday, the three-judge panel, based in San Francisco, declared the law unconstitutional because it infringed on the defendant’s freedom of speech, even if it was false. That defendant, Xavier Alvarez, had claimed to be a Marine and a winner of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. He was neither.