As originally posted on:POLITICO November 15, 2012
A Montana state lawmaker’s request to be paid in gold and silver coins has been denied by the state.
Earlier this week, state Rep. Jerry O’Neil wrote the state legislature asking to be paid his annual $7,000 salary in coins because constituents in his district told him he wasn’t doing his duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which O’Neil and Gold standard supporters say requires the government only print gold-backed money.
Jaret Coles, a Montana legislative staff attorney, said that’s not going to happen.
“The United States Constitution does not require states to pay debts in gold and silver. Additionally, there is no specific authority in the Montana Code Annotated for an agency to pay debts using gold or silver for services,” Coles wrote.
What’s O’Neil think about that?
“It seems to me kind of silly that a judge can rewrite the Constitution in the court of law,” said O’Neil, a Republican who represents a district in the northern part of the state. “Maybe they have some merit but right at the moment it doesn’t seem like they do.”
But Coles noted that legislation could be introduced to specifically permit payment in gold and silver.
“If a member of the Legislature desires reimbursement in gold or silver, a bill could be introduced to accomplish this result,” Coles wrote in the letter.
O’Neil said he doesn’t plan on doing that but he is looking at another option.
“I’m considering having my paycheck direct deposited to a coin dealer and then I can collect my gold and silver coin — it’ll help me but it wouldn’t help my constituents,” he said.
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