Signed, sealed, felonious? Republican statehouse hopeful affixes seal to site
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 7:52 am
From the Department of Wait, Seriously, Are They Kidding, johne of Square State notices the House District 49 Republican vacancy committee plans to convene at the Allnutt Funeral Home in Fort Collins to pick a successor for Rep. Kevin Lundberg, who was elevated to the Colorado State Senate last weekend. That’s right, they’ll be naming Lundberg’s replacement at a funeral home.
More importantly, though, Square State points to an unfolding felony on the Web site of one of the announced House District 49 hopefuls. Windsor businessman Ray Walter proudly displays as a background image the Colorado state seal, complete with “the eye of God with rays” and “a bundle of sticks with an ax blade projecting.” The problem? “The Secretary of State alone is authorized to affix the Great Seal of Colorado to any document whatsoever, and then only, in pursuance of law.” It’s not just a formality, either. “Illegal use of the seal is a class 5 felony (CRS 24-80-902),” the secretary of state’s guidelines warn. Probably not the best foot forward for an aspiring lawmaker, Mr. Walter.
Former Secretary of State Mike Coffman clarified the question a couple years ago when a partisan Republican campaign site was caught using the seal improperly. GOP leaders stumbled over themselves trying to adhere to the law, which a Colorado Independent investigation found had been broken again and again by zealous Republican operatives.
Walter, as well as any other Republicans who habitually forget how to use the state seal legally, might want to review Coffman’s official memorandum of April 17, 2007, which admonishes legislators from misusing the seal. “When these guidelines do not permit use of the State Seal, Members may wish to consider using the State Flag as a State symbol where appropriate,” Coffman wrote.
Square State notes that Walter rather oddly touts experience as a “Fraternity President” and high school “Class President” among his leadership skills. To that, we’ll add the questionable entries boasting that he was “Approached to run for County Commissioner” and “Approached to run for Town Board,” though apparently he has kept his powder dry to make a bid for the statehouse appointment.
The Windsor Republican — who is, after all, a local president of Gideons International, the group that distributes Bibles to motel rooms — isn’t alone in misappropriating the Colorado state seal, a quick Colorado Independent investigation reveals.
Something called Airplane Modelworks, based in Arizona, offers a lovely collectible hand-crafted Colorado State Seal plaque, which “undergoes various stages of quality control before being put in its box.” At $99.95, this “unforgettable piece of history” belongs in every commemorative plaque collection, but remember: When unauthorized use of the Colorado state seal on wall plaques is outlawed, only outlaws will have unauthorized Colorado state seal plaques.
More problematic, perhaps, the $34.95 Colorado Concealed Weapon Permit badge, suitable for clipping to something called a “badge belt holder” to proudly — if somewhat contradictorily — display your possession of a concealed weapon, also reproduces the Colorado State Seal in contravention to the law. “It goes without saying the impersonation of a Law Enforcement officer is a crime, in most states it is a felony,” the Cool Cop Gear online store advises, without also advising that mere possession of a badge with the state seal is also a felony. Customers might want to save their receipt for that money-back guarantee, as Coffman’s replacement, Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, takes office Wednesday and hasn’t yet made clear his policy toward prosecuting state seal offenders.