MEMO: Austin Knudsen Does Not Care About Montanans

June 22, 2020

To: Interested Parties
From: Farah Melendez, Political Director, Democratic Attorneys General Association
Date: June 22, 2020
Re: Austin Knudsen Does Not Care About Montanans

After a contentious Republican Primary, that saw nasty in-fighting and a divided electorate, Austin Knudsen won the primary election to be the Republican nominee for state Attorney General.

In addition to his lackluster fundraising, here are four telling facts about Austin Knudsen.

1. KNUDSEN WANTS TO END HEALTH CARE COVERAGE FOR MONTANANS WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

Austin Knudsen supports the GOP lawsuit that uses taxpayer dollars to gut the Affordable Care Act including health care protections for Montanans with pre-existing conditions. Austin Knudsen has committed to ending health care for 112,000 Montanans and ending protections for another 429,900 with pre-existing conditions. Additionally, tens of thousands of Montanans are unemployed as a result of COVID-19, and thousands more are at risk of losing their jobs, now is the time to ensure options for those with employer-covered health care, not take them away. Knudsen’s plan would leave these families without access to health care exchanges when they need it most. Knudsen repeatedly attacked current Republican AG Tim Fox for not joining the Republican lawsuit to gut health care and he voted against the bipartisan HELP Act that expanded health coverage to 90,000 Montanans. Knudsen tries to spin the Affordable Care Act as an “absolute train wreck,” but the real train wreck is Knudsen and his plans to eliminate health care protections for hundreds of thousands of Montanans.

2. KNUDSEN WANTS TO SELL MONTANA’S PUBLIC LANDS

Montanans are proud of their public lands, and protecting access to public lands is critical to hunters, anglers, and Montana communities. Austin Knudsen wants to sell and cut off public access to sacred Montana public land. He voted to cut access to land used for hunting and recreation and he is using his personal wealth to close off the road to access a veterans park by his family’s ranch near Culbertson. And it’s not just state lands Knudsen is looking at selling; he’s even trying to privatize federally protected land saying, “I support the transfer of federal public lands.” If Knudsen has his way, Montana lands will be sold to corporate interests piece by piece.

3. KNUDSEN CARES MORE FOR BIG BUSINESS THAN BIG SKY FAMILIES

Like the rest of the country, unemployment rates have risen sharply in Montana, and there is growing economic uncertainty as the state begins re-opening amid the COVID-19 crisis. Austin Knudsen has a record of choosing big business over Montana families. He raised taxes on Montana’s working families and seniors – refusing to give them much needed financial relief. Knudsen voted against property tax relief for 200,000 Montanans, voted against protecting workers from discrimination, and voted against the “Hire Montanans First Act.” The “Hire Montanans First Act” would have prioritized hiring Montanans in projects funded by the state as a way to help Montana families after the Great Recession. And on the issue of data privacy and consumer rights, Knudsen sides with big business. Knudsen told the crowd at an event this year, “I’m very nervous anytime we are going to private industries and telling them what they can and cannot do with property or information they’ve gathered.” Knudsen has made clear which side he will come down on when Montanans’ data and privacy is at risk.

4. KNUDSEN IS HARMFUL TO WOMEN AND FAMILIES

Montanans believe in keeping the government out of their personal business and families. This includes access to reproductive health care and ensuring politicians do not get in between a woman and her doctor — protected by the Montana Constitution. But, Knudsen voted to amend Montana’s Constitution to specify that women do not have a constitutionally protected right to accessing reproductive health care. This makes it abundantly clear that Austin Knudsen does not stand with Montanans on choice.

 

Montanans need an Attorney General who will protect their health care, defend their public lands, help get them back on their feet, and stay out of their private lives. Austin Knudsen is not that candidate. Knudsen’s record shows he simply does not care about Montanan values.