Montana Politics

Poor Randy Pinocci: Getting Paid to Play Video Games

You really have to admire Representative Randy Pinocci. When he’s not running around the Montana Legislature battling the imaginary threat of Agenda 21 or working to pass a wasteful, hateful, and unconstitutional bill to require drug tests for welfare recipients, he’s demonstrating a real penchant for whining and creative accounting in the press.

You really all ought to read this profile of the freshman Representative in the Great Falls Tribune. When he wasn’t justifying votes against the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind and other schools, Pinocci bitterly wept about his inadequate salary as a member of the Legislature, telling the Tribune that he makes $5 an hour for his work:

And as for a state employee wage increase, “I don’t know any state employee who makes the wages I make, $5 an hour for 16-hour days,” he said.

Having lived in Helena for the past twenty years and having seen many legislators generally and Mr. Pinocci specifically out on the town, I’d say that it’s pretty brazen to suggest that he’s putting in 16 hour days, unless he’s counting free drinks and meals in that tally. As the delightful Twitter account Bourbon and Frost notes:

But that’s not at all. It seems some of the work being done by Representative Pinocci is a bit more virtual than real. It appears he likes to play soldier on a Facebook video game, presumably on his state-provided laptop, sometimes while the session is active–and certainly during those 16 hour days:


Between February 9th and March 3rd, Pinocci posted at least 25 times. Do those count among the 16 hour work days, I wonder?

A tipster sent me this image (and dozens more) as (s)he caught the Representative paying less attention to the needs of the people of Montana than the needs of his virtual soldier persona. At the time, I didn’t plan to use the images, but given Pinocci’s penchant for pusillanimous posturing in the press, it seems more relevant today.

In the end, you chose to run, Representative Pinocci, just as you choose to play virtual solider and virtual legislator. Just try to remember that, unlike in your video games, the decisions you make in the House affect real people with serious needs, needs even more profound than your need to develop a sense of empathy and perspective.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • That was exactly the impression I got after reading the Tribune article. Whine, whine, whine. I’d offer him a slice of government cheese to go with that whine, but he’d probably want to test me for drugs first. Maybe the wolves will take it: apparently they have to fend for themselves…

  • Rep. Tom Burnett’s advice on living at the poverty level is tailor-made for Pinocci.

    Work 17-hour days. Expect little entertainment. Work a full-time job, seasonal jobs, and home businesses. No whining. Get out of bed early. Stay out of bed and off the couch. Glean potatoes, apples. Gather wild berries. Hunt. When conditions allow, raise a garden. Raise rabbits, a calf, geese, chickens. Slaughter. Butcher. Can, dry, freeze and store food. Cook from scratch. Use basic ingredients; flour, rice, beans, vegetables. Cook in large batches. Goulash, Spanish rice, soups, stews, pan muffins, fried or baked potatoes, pancakes, waffles, bread, casseroles. Hot cereal is cheap. Boil wheat. Plan ahead. Budget. Stretch a budget. Never buy junk food, prepared food. Avoid fast food and restaurants. Never waste a morsel. Keep and serve later. Meld into future dishes. Refuse government aid, free school lunch, church charity. Lunch: One peanut butter and honey sandwich, four carrot sticks, an apple. Expect occasional hunger. Fast two meals per month. Give money saved to “the poor” through the church. Glean tomatoes and beans on the church welfare farm, “for the poor.” Forego other spending. Wear undershirts until holes gape. Shop for clothes at the thrift store. Never waste money on drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or electronic entertainment. The dignity of self-reliance is not cheap. It is priceless.
    (Reposted from Cowgirl 2/3/2015)

  • I was interested in the per diem amount in the tweet posted above. $112.85/day. Is that just for food, or food and lodging? I had a very rare trip out-of-state for training this winter, and I got $41/day for food. For Chicago, not Helena, Montana. Since I’m used to living on state university staff wages, it was actually plenty, and I was grateful for it. If we’re paying the legislators $112.85/day just for food…that might be a great place to make a budget cut. (For travel in-state, the per diem is closer to +/- $30, btw) Heck, cut it anyway. They can share hotel rooms while they’re in session, and use 2-for-1 coupons when they eat out. Nearly $200/day total? That’s insane. The Republicans are cutting benefits to the working poor, the disabled, the elderly, and children in the name of saving money. They have the cojones to question the impact on Montana taxpayers if the wages of state employees are raised to something nearer those of neighboring states. Um, I think I can speak for other state employees when I say, “As a fellow Montana taxpayer, I’m totally OK with it.” However, speaking for myself, as a Montana taxpayer I’m not OK with using my tax money to pay this much to people like Pinocci. Give him and other Republican legislators an amount equivalent to what the average Montanan receives if s/he gets housing assistance and SNAP benefits. Let them see how far that goes in Helena. Their fellow Montanans, most of them already employed, have to figure that kind of thing out every day.

  • Mr. Pinocci was apparently more ‘enthralled’ with being the’ Virtual Warrior’ than house floor business at 1:13PM, Feb 26, DAY 44 of the session, the day BEFORE day 45, Transmittal, a crucial day. Mr. Pinocci ‘lamented’ he’s got no time (We don’t argue that legislators can get a beer, watch a movie or ‘play’ but that’s AFTER OFFICIAL duties, not ‘playing’ on the floor while Citziens are DYING DYING DYING in reality for LACK of healthcare, and not getting attacked by fictional UN helicopters or squads of ‘virtual warriors’ doing piss tests on the unwashed welfare scum……..

    King Knudsen, don’t you have STANDARDS at least for your Tribe?

  • I find it hard to believe that Mr. Pinocci is hurting for more wages, given his past history in the community. There have been several cases where Mr. Pinocci filed an action against someone or else had an attorney write a letter demanding payment for something, Of course, he felt in all of these instances that he had money coming; His job was terminated at a company here in town. He went after them and got a settlement. His house caught on fire and he got ins. money, but he went after the toaster company that he said caused the fire and building supply company and received settlements from them. He went after a car place for car repairs and got paid back by ins. company for what he paid for work. He convinced Dr. to have surgery and understand he went after Dr. and Hospital for a settlement. His wife came in after settlement with new pickup and camper and him with new car the next day. This is just the tip of the iceberg on cases that have been filed in court or with letter threatening to go to court. People like him make big money by doing this. Just thought some might find this interesting and can check into it farther. I know for certain that this is not false.

  • Do you have solid evidence of Pinocci actually accessing this site during the floor sessions or is the “tip” an unfounded allegation. Without actual evidence, your allegation is a character assassination. Why don’t you contact those who sat next to him in the session. I’ve spoken with his seatmate and your tip is unfounded, according to him. Do you have the courage to actually seek the truth or is speculation the full measure of your personal integrity in blogging?

    • Yes, Perry, I do.

      I compared the time stamps of posts from Pinocci’s Facebook feed with the times the Legislature was in session on the floor and found that he was, indeed, playing games while “working.”

      Thank you foe asking about my integrity. I feel pretty good about it.

      • Good response, and I’m sure other legislators of all parties ‘dabble and doodle’ on smart phones during the floor sessions, but how many ‘proclaim’ it on an open source like FB and especially for something like playing games, while other legislators might be checking on bills, committee business – or their own businesses and families while away in Helena – but NOT being ‘virtual warriors’………..if he had tried that in basic training or military school, he’d have been disciplined!

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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