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Utah citizens are the proud owners of gold and silver commemorative coins from a company now in receivership, its owner charged with running a $100 million Ponzi scheme.

The coins were given to Gov. Gary Herbert during a 2011 signing ceremony for HB317, the tea-party backed bill that made gold and silver legal tender in Utah. Along with Carl Wimmer's official state gun bill, HB317 attracted international attention and bolstered Utah's image as, say, unique.

The grateful donor of the gifts was Wayne L. Palmer, who helped push through the Utah Legal Tender bill, legislation said to be the first step toward states being able to mint their own currency.

Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission obtained a restraining order and asset freeze against Palmer, alleging he had operated a Ponzi scheme through his real-estate firm, National Note of Utah.

The SEC, in a press release, said 600 investors nationwide lost approximately $100 million.

Palmer is owner or a principal in dozens of companies that were put in receivership by the SEC. One of those firms is Old Glory Mint, a Utah company that mints high-quality gold and silver commemorative coins like the two given to Herbert at the signing ceremony.

Wayne Klein, the court-appointed receiver in the case, said the assets of Old Glory Mint originally were frozen along with National Note and most of the other companies controlled by Palmer. But he has unfrozen Old Glory's assets because it is a profitable company and its continuing profits will make it more valuable when the assets are eventually sold.

Palmer was one of a group of advocates, including tea-party activists who ushered the Legal Tender Act, sponsored by Rep. Brad Galvez, R-West Haven, through the Legislature.

A New York Times story about the legislation quoted advocates saying it happened first in Utah for a reason.

"For many of its supporters," said The Times, "the new law represents an extension of the notion of preparedness that is nurtured by Utah's powerful founding institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of the law's supporters believe policies like stimulus spending, the bank bailout and national health care will soon bankrupt the government, sending inflation soaring. Owning gold and silver, they say, will help protect people."

"It's kind of written into our theology that we're supposed to be prepared for any eventuality," Lowell Nelson, of the Campaign for Liberty, told The Times.

Cause and effect • The Republican fundraiser and tea-party organizer who was charged Wednesday with 23 counts of rape was a busy blogger on GOP websites last year, advocating the expulsion from the Republican Party of then-State Rep. Holly Richardson, R-Pleasant Grove, claiming she was a fraud and a traitor to the party.

Greg Peterson, well-known in Republican circles because of his annual Rocky Mountain Conservative Retreat and Barbecue that attracted high-profile Republican candidates and donors, aimed most of his internet vitriol at Richardson's support of HB116, the illegal-immigration bill that contained a guest-worker provision.

But Republican bloggers responding to his attacks had another theory about his dislike of the legislator and popular conservative blogger. Peterson had persistently sent emails to Richardson's 20-something daughter, asking her out on a date, Richardson has confirmed. Her daughter refused to go out with him.