Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte said he will donate part of his salary to a drug treatment facility in the state.
Gianforte, a Republican, wrote on Twitter that One Health Bighorn, a medical facility that also provides drug treatment services, will be one of the organizations to receive part of his $120,000 annual salary as governor.
“One Health Bighorn’s treatment and recovery services transform lives and rebuild families,” Gianforte wrote. “Last year, I promised Montanans I would donate my governor’s salary to nonprofits in Montana. Given their successful efforts, I’m proud to support One Health Bighorn.”
According to The Associated Press, Gianforte will donate one-quarter of his annual salary to One Health Bighorn, with future announcements expected as to which organizations will be the beneficiaries of the remaining funds.
“We face a drug epidemic in our state, and while there’s no silver bullet to end it, we can combat it by promoting treatment and recovery for Montanans struggling with addiction,” Gianforte said in a statement cited by the outlet, which reported that the money donated to One Health Bighorn will be used for medication-assisted treatment and support groups.
In the November 2020 election, Gianforte became Montana’s first GOP governor in 16 years.
Gianforte donating his salary is similar to former President Donald Trump, who had donated his presidential paychecks to various causes on a quarterly basis.
Trump donated parts of his $400,000 annual salary to such recipients as the National Park Service to repair damaged monuments, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health and Human Services to fight the opioid crisis.
Fatal drug overdoses spiked to record highs in 2020 in states across the United States, with pandemic-driven isolation and loss of routine the likely factor behind the surge in deaths.
State-level fatal drug overdose data covering the 12-month period ending in September 2020, the closest proxy available for last year as a whole, show drug deaths surged at least 26.8 percent in the United States, with the District of Columbia up 56.8 percent, Louisiana 53.2 percent, Kentucky 49.2 percent, and West Virginia 49.0 percent, according to incomplete data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The preliminary drug overdose death data released by the CDC also shows that in the 12-month period ending in September 2020, there were 87,203 drug-related deaths nationwide, an all-time high compared to 68,757 fatal drug overdoses for the 12 months ending September 2019.