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Tea partier cites Mormon doctrine to defend 10 kids on Medicaid

Published October 17, 2013 2:06 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The flak keeps on coming for former Idaho Legislature candidate Greg Collett after telling NBC News that the government shouldn't be involved in health care while also disclosing that he has 10 children covered by Medicaid.

"I've been getting a message on average probably every five minutes," Collett told The Tribune by phone Thursday afternoon. "I've had reactions all over the board. 'Hypocrite' is probably one of the nicer terms that I'm being called."

Collett said he's not a hypocrite; he's just trying to get some of his money back from the greedy federal government. The Mormon 45-year-old, who lost Canyon County GOP primaries for the state Senate in 2010 and House in 2012, wrote an almost 3,000-word response to the criticisms on his website, quoting from the Doctrine and Covenants and the Bible to explain himself.

That didn't help. Gawker wrote "Collett attempted to defend his hypocrisy, but made it so much worse." Collett said he understands that people find his position unusual — "It's one that I haven't seen anybody else take," he said — and that even conservatives bristle at the notion of one of their own taking advantage of the programs they're trying to defund. But Collett, who attended junior high school in Sunset, Utah, said it's just the way he feels.

He wrote that most people were upset that: 1. He has a large family, 2. He home-schools his kids, 3. He doesn't carry health insurance for himself, and 4. (Chiefly) He put his kids on Medicaid.

Eight of his children are adopted, he explains, and seven are from the foster care system. As for home schooling, he says public education is "one of the planks of the Communist Manifesto." Were he to send his kids to public school, Collett writes, he would be asking taxpayers to spend considerably more on them per year than they are getting from Medicaid.

The burden of insurance should fall to families, churches and charity, he says. So how could he possibly take money from Medicaid? He says that's a natural extension of being a citizen of a too-big government, and that he doesn't begrudge anybody participating in or working for government's programs. His fault is with the people who created the programs.

"People should take advantage of whatever they can," Collett said. "This was basically extracted from the people. It wasn't right for that to happen."

Asked whether he pays more tax than he receives benefits, he said that's not a relevant question. The government controls so much that it's impossible to say whether anybody is truly a giver or a taker.

mpiper@sltrib.com

Twitter: @matthew_piper