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Flathead lawmaker requests payment in gold and silver

By Scott Zoltan, KECI Reporter, szoltan@keci.com
Published On: Nov 13 2012 09:52:56 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 14 2012 09:04:01 PM MST
COLUJMBIA FALLS, Mont. -

A Flathead lawmaker is making national headlines after he requested his payments be made in gold and silver coins. State Rep. Jerry O’Neil (R-Columbia Falls) put in a formal request with Montana Legislative Services on Friday.

He says he’s worried the U.S. dollar will collapse, and he says he hopes his request gets other people thinking.

“My constituents said ‘Hey, what are you going to do about us when the government can’t pay its bills and the bottom falls out of the dollar?’” said O’Neil.

“If enough people understand, they’re going to go to the government and say: ‘Hey, start paying down the debt.’”

O’Neil points to the U.S. Constitution, specifically Article One, Section Ten, quoting it in his letter as saying “No state shall make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts.”

“It’s going to be the same, I’ll get the same value as if I take paper dollars except next month, when the paper’s worth less, the gold and silver I get will be worth what it is today.”

NBC Montana spoke with several of O’Neil’s constituents in Columbia Falls on Tuesday.

Columbia Falls Resident Jerry Howard said gold and silver is still a gamble.

“It’s going to be like riding the stock market. Silver can be up today and someone can dump a load of stock silver on the market. It could be down to five dollars an ounce,” said Howard.

“I back him all the way,” said Columbia Falls Resident Peg Wiebelhaus. “I think he’s got a valid point there. The way the economy’s going, yeah, good for him.”

So while reaction is mixed people are talking, and for O’Neil that’s half the plan.

On Tuesday around noon, he hadn’t yet heard back from Montana Legislative Services.