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MT: Lawmaker’s fat-cutting won’t cost taxpayers

By   /   November 30, 2012  /   News  /   13 Comments

TRIM: Knox will undergo gastric bypass surgery, but not on the state’s dime.

By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org

HELENA — State Rep. James Knox is cutting the fat, but it won’t impact Montana taxpayers one way or the other.

A number of left-leaning blogs and Twitter tweeps have blasted Knox in recent weeks and months for leaving the state to pursue work while keeping the health insurance Montana gives to state lawmakers at a minimal cost.

“Some constituents want to know why Knox — a loud and proud member of the Tea Party movement that took the Montana legislature by storm in the 2010 elections — has decided to keep collecting the free government healthcare that is given to all legislators,” wrote the vile Montana Cowgirl blog earlier this year. “Presumably, this is the reason that he has not resigned.”

The issue is particularly weighty now as Knox next week submits to gastric bypass surgery, a procedure costing more than $20,000.

Knox denies he’s using his Montana-backed Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance supplied to state lawmakers to cover the surgery.

“Hell no,” he said flatly on a Friday afternoon call with Watchdog.org.

The rotund Republican, tipping the scales at 325, left Montana in August 2011 searching for a better life for himself and his family. He ended up in the Houston-area with a financial services firm.

He said he dropped his state health coverage after leaving the state. He didn’t resign, because, well, he didn’t have to. After consulting with the secretary of state’s office, he said he understood that no law prevented him from fulfilling his duties from Texas, as long as he served his constituents.

Knox will go under the knife Dec. 3 for the procedure with a goal of shedding more than 100 pounds. His new employer’s health plan will cover most of the cost, though Knox will shell out a little more than $3,000 of his own cash.

The state insurance also covered the procedure, but at a higher out-of-pocket cost, Knox said.

“My insurance is a lot better at work,” he said, noting differences between the health coverage offered by the state and his new employer.

Unabashed amusement washed over his demeanor throughout the telephone interview. He wondered aloud why some folks would obsess over his too-large belly and not Montana’s too-large state government, which he said wastes enormous amount of taxpayer cash.

“I’d like people to start focusing on the state of Montana,” he said.

As Knox embarks on his personal journey to better health, he turned to the future.

“You’ve got to make the lifestyle changes,” he said, adding that the surgery it “just a tool.”

Contact Dustin Hurst at [email protected] or @DustinHurst via Twitter. 

— Edited by Kelly Carson, [email protected]


  • The actual surgery I am having is a gastric sleeve not a bypass.

  • ‘just a tool’. You know who’s a tool? Someone who claims to want small government yet sucks the state teat from 2000 miles away. Cut the cord, Knox.

  • James Knox you are an embarrassment to Billings and the state of Montana! Who cares if your fat, we do care about the fat that rests on our state legislatures belly though…. Moral and ethical Obesity at its finest!

  • Roger

    Screw the friggin surgery….How can you serve your constituents when you no longer are living in the state?

  • SixSixSix

    That thing in your mouth is more deadly the extra 100 pounds. Do the right thing, let some else do the job that you won’t do.

  • He answered that

  • Good luck with the surgery

  • Really Richard, kind of funny your not complaining about the D that had the same surgery.

  • Did not have it on or do I get the State insurance. Cut that cord long ago yet I still attend my meetings.

  • Thanks!

  • Actually it is not. Cigars are not inhaled. They do not have the carcinogens that cigarettes do either. My cardiologist said three a week no more. I have maybe one a week.

  • Well it has been taken several call from constituents and drafted letters as needed. I also conference in to my State IT Board meetings. By the way the other legislator on the board who lives there has yet to attend.
    Taken a little work but I have followed through on my commitment.

  • SixSixSix

    Wrong, just like chewing tobacco, it’s in the plant. The smoke is no better second hand either, except it smells more. You have a lip and mouth risk. [We’ll skip the risk of halitosis.] My cardiologist just put the caffeine hex on me, and I roast my own coffee. Now that’s hard times…