JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The federal government is investigating a Missouri artist who has been placing stickers on quarters to protest a U.S. Mint decision not to use his design for the state's official quarter, The Associated Press has learned.
Doug Hecox, a spokesman for the Mint in Washington, said Tuesday that information about Columbia artist Paul Jackson's distribution of the quarters has been forwarded to the Secret Service because it may violate the federal laws against defacing currency.
"That is something that is going on right now," Hecox said in a telephone interview. "We found out through the grapevine that this was going on. The Secret Service is going to begin to look into it."
Jackson's stick-on designs show the Gateway Arch and explorers Lewis and Clark on the opposite side of George Washington's head.
Jackson's design won an Internet vote among Missourians but was rejected primarily because the Mint plans to issue a Lewis and Clark commemorative dollar with a similar design, the Mint has said.
The Mint also said Jackson's design was historically inaccurate because it placed the early 1800s explorers in front of the modern-day Arch in St. Louis.
Jackson said Tuesday he was not concerned about the investigation and would continue to distribute stickers. So far, about 4,000 quarters with the stickers have been given out with another 50,000 stickers on order, Jackson said.
"I believe they are wrong and that this is merely a scare tactic," Jackson said. "This is a good indication of what you can expect from the U.S Mint. If they want to give me my day in court, I would be glad to accommodate them."
Jackson noted that the Mint last week said he was not breaking any laws. Hecox called The AP Tuesday to revise that statement after a review of the situation by Mint attorneys.
"I believe this is about freedom of speech," Jackson said. "I'm trying to get the word out that the U.S. Mint lied. We gave out those quarters with gusto for a whole week."
There are currently four final designs for the Missouri quarter under review by the treasury secretary.