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Representative Rodney Garcia Attacks Child Protective Services, Calling them Kidnappers, on a Militia News Outlet

When I started writing this blog, it would have been hard to imagine a headline like the one on this post. While I certainly disagreed with Republicans on many issues, it wasn’t a common occurrence for an elected Republican official in Montana to sit down with a militia news outlet; nor was it common for such a legislator to accuse government agencies entrusted with protecting children of “kidnapping” them.

That’s just what Billings representative Rodney Garcia did last week, though. In an interview with militia news outlet Northwest Liberty News, Garcia attacked Child Protective Services in Montana, accusing its social workers of “stealing kids” before proposing jailing them for doing so.

Garcia agreed enthusiastically with the interviewer, James White, when he claimed that “CPS was a ruse…they violate the law. I think that they harm children,” before claiming that “Child Protective Services do not protect the children. They kidnap them.”

Apparently not understanding either how child protective services operate or what a court order is, Garcia went on to assert that children are “taken” from their homes with a mere accusation.

How does Garcia propose to solve the imaginary crisis he’s created? By “putting a $1,000 day fine when they steal kids” and putting the CPS caseworkers in jail. Later, he argued for cutting the budget of Child Protective Services in half.

In a bizarre admission, Garcia also said that CPS came to his house forty-five years ago to investigate an allegation without taking his kids.

And then the interview went completely off the rails. Mr. White claimed that the places where children who are removed from their homes are taken are “littered with pedophiles,” and that Planned Parenthood is “chopping up babies and selling their body parts,” and once again, Representative Garcia agreed, calling it a sad day in our nation’s history.

Later, Garcia criticized a legislative proposal to better train CPS workers, calling it an effort to “train you guys to steal kids better.” At the 10:25 mark of the interview, Garcia really gets into the militia spirit, calling on people to “defend their property and their family” from CPS workers.

It would be tempting to dismiss Representative Garcia’s ravings, but they represent the view of many Republicans, who brought three bills to the House designed to undermine Child Protective Services. HB 408, HB 409, and HB 410, two of which have failed in the House, all of which were endorsed by Republicans like Al Olszewski, would have made it more difficult to remove children from situations where they were subject to abuse and neglect.

It’s horrifying that many Montana Republicans want to spread misinformation about vaccination and it’s dangerous that they tacitly and directly endorse the views of dangerous anti-government groups, but it’s reprehensible that they want to make it more difficult to remove children from homes where they are abused. It’s reprehensible that they want to roll back the protections society has put in place to protect kids from horrific abuse and dangerous neglect, and that they’re willing to demonize people who do some of the most challenging jobs in our state to do it.

I’d like to think that the Republican Party isn’t filled with legislators like Mr. Garcia, people who will cast the most unfair and dangerous aspersions about social service workers, but at least 40 Republicans voted for each of these bills, all of which will make it more difficult to protect kids from monsters who would harm them.

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.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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.

19 Comments

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  • While not quite as abhorrent as his attack on CPS or the bizarre interview he gave to the militia “news” site, Garcia should also be remembered for his bill that would have Montana buying the aged CO2 spewing Colstrip power plants, thereby saddling the state with the clean up costs and a mountain of debt. Where does the GOP find these people?

    • Dora, they have been conditioned to vote “R” no matter what by Voices of Montana, FOX “news”, Rush, Hannity, Brietbart, etc, etc, etc. They are not really in their “right mind” because they have been brainwashed by years of extreme right-wing propaganda and Corporate sponsored lies.

  • I have seen with my own eyes and known families that were torn apart unnecessarily based on an accusation. I have seen kids torn from one parent only to be placed in an even worse situation with the other parent. Child Protective Services needs better staff, better training, better funding, and better policy procedures. Hiring former probation officers is not a good idea. I know one of the offices did just that. Corrections is worlds apart from social programs and legit protection for kids. Let’s not forget there is an ombudsman that only exists on paper because CPS doesn’t want their mistakes widely known. I get mocking Republicans, but I have to part with you on this one topic.

    • I think we can all agree, Chad, that CPS needs “…better training, better funding and better policy procedures.” That’s not what Rep. Garcia’s bill was about.

    • Seems easy enough to prove that these things happen, Chad, and it’s hardly going to improve CPS and its protection of children to cut funding for the program.

      • Call me Don! You are dead wrong. I am sixty eight years old and have watched what CPS has done for years. They are not there to help children! You are NOT informed. Call me, but be prepared. I knew Ted Gunderson, Senator Nancy Schaefer, and many victims.

        Deborah Lynne Connor 801-654-3140

    • Who to believe? The dedicated professionals who endure what has to be one of the most important and difficult jobs imaginable–protecting children from abusive and neglectful parents–or some Internet troll spewing MAGA language?

      I’ll stick with CPS.

      • Sorry, I grew up in that system and let me tell you – a LOT (FAR too many) of those “dedicated professionals” are… just off. I had one walk right by me – not saying a word about me standing in one place in 20 degree weather with snow – she went in the house for over an hour, had tea with my abusive step mother, then left without a question or word or glance to me – still standing there. It was a punishment. That’s just ONE story.

        With the state getting paid by the federal government now for every kid they remove – this is becoming a common story around the country.

        By all accounts, this woman had ZERO allegations against her – NO physical or mental abuse, NO neglect, NO substance abuse. She had to have a hysterectomy. They allowed her kid to be adopted FOREVER – because she needed surgery.

        How can you support that?

  • Until the financial incentives are ended for cps taking children, i see no end to this modern day child trafficking

  • You are ill informed. Children are removed on mere allegations. Hearings for removal are held “ ex-parte” and parents are not notified. Here say evidence is admissible. Not all allegations of abuse, neglect and dependence are founded. Statistically children are more likely to abused and neglected in a foster home than in than own homes. Family courts hide bad judges and magistrates in family courts and cover their mistakes under the guise of confidentiality and protection of the child. Judge Judy said in an interview family court is where they stick judges who are too stupid to be in criminal court. Family court robs citizens of constitutionally protected due process. Additionally, in Orange County California in 2014 an investigation which led to the round up of 105 children in a human trafficking ring found 68 of those children were wards of the state of California and none of those children had been reported missing by the child protection agency in Orange County. State agencies entrusted with protecting children are raping the Title IV act of Social Security to collect bonuses for adopting children to strangers. We can all agree no one wants to see any child abused yet the current system is not working. I’m glad to see legislators listening to constituents and their experiences. CPS preys among poor families. Families who cannot afford their own legal representation are provided with court appointed attorneys who work for family court. These “court appointed attorney” do not provide adequate representation to their clients and appear to side with the family court. Do better research before you criticize someone whose going on record.

    • You lost me a citing a TV judge.

      And I absolutely agree that our legal system needs to do a better job of ensuring that people in poverty have better access to lawyers in all cases.

      But to suggest that CPS is “preying on poor families” to traffic children is unbelievably offensive conspiracy nonsense.

  • CPS removes children with no warrants or proof of any abuse or neglect they ruin families and lives with no remorse I am glad light is finally being shed on what is a horrific experience for children and their parents something needs to be done most of the time the children they are removing are NOT being abused or neglected there are thousands of families fighting for their children against a corrupt system that is set up for failure most people are blind to what is happening and has been happening since Busch gave more incentives for CPS to kidnap children they gotta fill those quotas to get that money js

    • I have a couple of thoughts here.

      First, the idea that “thousands” of kids are removed from their families unjustly in Montana seems untrue on its face.

      And I think it’s important to be skeptical of people who claim that their kids were removed with no abuse or neglect. If you’re the kind of person who would abuse or neglect a child, it seems like honesty might not be at top of your list of virtues, either.

      As for the claims that CPS “kidnaps” children for money, that’s just unfair. The people who work there have some of the hardest jobs I can imagine.

  • You’ve not bothered to do even 1 tiny bit of research on this issue and it shows. The state audit in 2016 showed the problem is real. One common scenario is a non custodial parent making false allegations against the custodial parent and cps without any proof beyond the other parents statement will take children under emergency removsl proceedings. These are often in situations where Domestic Violence and/or abuse was or had already been present against the mother by the father and the father is furthering the abuse with the help of CFS. These are parenting plan cases that should be dealt with in civil court but yet CFS aids the abusers by putting the children with the abuser. Then the children now under the control of their abuser will not speak out or will recant in efforts of self preservation. If you actually cared about Montana’s children you would do at least the bare minimum of research instead if spouting off your baseless opinion. Feel free to comment to me and I will allow you to follow my case. I am the abused parent and this is what is happening to me right now. I have all the proof in the world, even my childrens court appointed lawyer sees it for what it is. Yet my children were taken and it’s been almost 3 weeks and I’ve yet to even get a show cause hearing as my kids were taken without a warrant claiming imminent threat when even the CFS affidavit fails to identify any threats and says ‘may’ be in danger because of fathers statement. Did I mention this happened after my deadbeat ex finally got the child support enforcement order? So after not caring about his children for 2.5 years he suddenly does when he is faced with having no choice but to pay, Gee what a coincidence. If I was so unstable why did his own father defend me? Why is his father’s testimony not in the affidavit? Or the testimony OF ANYONE WHO DEFENDED ME? ONLY the statements made by a documented domestic abuser.

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