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Editorial: Knudsen needs to tend to actual AG business

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Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen.

No, the Attorney General of this state does not get to use the Montana Highway Patrol as his private police force, "investigating" nonexistent crimes.

No, the Attorney General does not have a medical license, nor does he have the right to dictate an unapproved course of treatment just because it has been popularized by the same right-wing misinformation swamp that has decided vaccinations are only for Democrats.

No, the Attorney General does not have the right to harass medical workers who are spending far too much of their time moving cadavers out of St. Peter's Health ICU in order to try to save others' lives.

No, the Attorney General is not a king. He does not have unlimited power over all of our lives. He cannot impose his judgment and force a hospital to operate outside accepted standards and practices.

No, the Attorney General did not send the Highway Patrol into St. Pete's to investigate "Medicaid fraud," as one lame attempt at post-incident justification asserted.

The shocking abuse of power revealed by Montana State News Bureau chief Holly Michels and reporter Seaborn Larson was not the first in Attorney General Austin Knudsen's short career. In separate cases, he has attempted to order the county attorneys of Gallatin and Lewis & Clark to dismiss cases. 

Both cases were culture-war causes-celebres — a bar owner that refused to comply with coronavirus-related restrictions, a restaurant patron who became belligerent and violent after refusing to comply with mask requirements. Both actions represented heavy-handedness and overreach on Knudsen's part. He's also picked culture-war battles far from home, pursuing roles in lawsuits that had nothing to do with Montana.

This latest escapade is the most egregious. The attorney general needs to quit playing to the gallery and do the work he was elected to do.

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