FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Editorial Boards Admonish Knudsen’s Support for Defunding Department of Justice, Repealing the ACA
The Gazette and Standard editorial boards praised Graybill’s experience fighting “big courtroom battles,” his commitment to defending access to health care, and his solutions-based approach to tackling Montana’s meth epidemic.
Knudsen, on the other hand, earned criticism for his “dubious at best” approach to crime — pushing for cuts to the Department of Justice. The editorial boards rebuked Knudsen for his desire to repeal the ACA, after he entered the race for Attorney General because he felt Tim Fox had not done enough to repeal the law; he also penned an op-ed in support of the lawsuit to gut Montanans’ healthcare.
Knudsen admits that the Attorney General does not have control over local jurisdictions where the war against methamphetamine is being played out. But he says he’ll first find money by cutting down “bloated Helena bureaucracy” in the Department of Justice and then using his relationship with Republicans who control the Legislature to ferry that cash to county prosecutors to fight the drug war.
That process seems dubious at best.
First of all, we are concerned about what Knudsen would cut from Justice. We do not want fewer troopers on the highways. We do not want fewer resources for the state crime lab. Or the state medical examiner’s office. We do not want less state attention paid to missing and murdered indigenous women and men. We do not want to see the Natural Resource Damage Program lose valuable funding and personnel.
Second of all, we don’t think the “send the money to the counties” approach makes a lot of sense. Lobbying the Legislature to send less money to the Department of Justice and more to county attorneys does not to us seem like part of the attorney general’s job description. And we don’t necessarily think that putting more funding in the offices of local prosecutors is the best way to attack the issue. In terms of law enforcement, we would think collaborating closely with the anti-cartel efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration might be a better strategy.
Also, coalition-building didn’t seem to be a Knudsen strong point when, as Speaker of the House, he fought battle after battle with Gov. Steve Bullock, refusing to collaborate and compromise on infrastructure and other key measures — things the moderate wing of his party finally got done after he left.[…]
Graybill’s approach to the methamphetamine problem seems more promising. He says he would focus on mental-health services and addiction treatment and drug courts, which have been effective. The state’s mental-health services are sparse, and drug problems and high suicide rates are at least in part a reflection of that.
It should be pointed out that for many in the state, mental-health and addiction-treatment services hinge on Medicaid expansion, which depends on the Affordable Care Act, which Knudsen opposes.
We believe Knudsen is far more suited to the job he has now than to the one he seeks. and we think Graybill has a broader, more innovative approach to public safety in the state.
For attorney general, we endorse Raph Graybill.
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