Montana Responds to Lawmaker’s Request for Payment in Gold, Silver

The Montana legislator who made national precious metals news in the past week for writing a letter relating the concerns of his constituents about inflation and subsequently requesting payment for his work in the legislative body will have to be contented with fiat currency, according to recent ports.

Republican Representative Jerry O’Neil of Columbia Falls requested the Montana Legislative Services Division to pay him in gold and silver coins because he is concerned about the financial outlook of the United States, particularly that of the U.S. dollar.

Mr. O’Neil quoted from the U.S. Constitution in his letter that states debts must be settled in gold or silver.

However, a legislative attorney has responded to the request Wednesday by saying that neither the U.S. Constitution nor Montana state law requires an agency to pay its debts with gold or silver. The attorney, Jaret Coles, in a letter to Legislative Services Executive Director Susan Fox wrote that he is unable to conclude the state is allowed to pay legislators in precious metals.

However, writes Coles, a legislator can introduce a bill to require such payments.

Mr. O’Neil criticized the fiscal policy of the U.S. Federal Reserve in his letter, postulating that the wholesale printing of money in order to combat the U.S. financial crisis could have the effect of destroying the currency.

O’Neil has been a supporter of Ron Paul in his presidential campaigns. Mr. Paul, a republican from Texas, is a well-known critic of the Federal Reserve and the policies of Ben Bernanke.

The controversy sparked may have been completely incidental on the part of Mr. O’Neil, who has never before disputed being paid in U.S. dollars and who mistakenly overstated the U.S. federal debt by $8 billion in his initial letter.

O’Neil has decided to pursue the issue further, according to preliminary reports. He is considering having the $7,000 he is paid annually direct deposited to a coin dealer who will reimburse him with gold and silver coin for his payment.

The Montana state legislator admits this is not the solution he was seeking, but he believes it is one step closer to alleviating the concerns of his constituents.

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