A lot of ink (virtual and real) has been spilled in this campaign for Congress about financial matters: Greg Gianforte’s ties to the Russian stock market, how his wealth might make it a challenge for him to connect to ordinary Montanans, and about Rob Quist’s debts incurred largely because of a botched surgery that made work difficult for a number of years. What hasn’t received any attention from the mainstream press in the state, are two small, but important financial matters that demonstrate that Greg Gianforte is willing to donate to people associated with white supremacy.
Back in 2015 and 2016 when Gianforte was trying to buy the Montana Legislature he and his wife donated to Flathead-area white supremacist Taylor Rose and Billings-area white supremacist Robert Saunders. While both lost their bids to bring their retrograde values to the Legislature, it’s troubling that Mr. Gianforte would financially support men like this and astonishing that the statewide press hasn’t pressed him to explain his donations.
Rose is so notorious that the Southern Poverty Law Center featured him in an October 2015 report, noting that he has been involved in white nationalism since college:
Since his college days, Taylor Rose has been deeply active in white nationalism. Rose acted as vice-president of a now-defunct white nationalist campus group Youth For Western Civilization (YWC). Rose headed the Liberty University chapter of the group. YWC was known for inviting white nationalists to college campuses and holding racially offensive events, such as an anti-immigrant event at Washington State University in 2011 where the YWC chapter erected a mock border fence complete with signs reading, “no crossing.”
The report goes on to note that he met with groups categorized as “right-wing extremist” by the federal government of Germany, is friends with a number of prominent white nationalists on Facebook, and reports that the YWC is noted for writing that is deeply offensive and and racist:
Recent blog items on YWC’s website also suggest an underlying antipathy towards blacks and Latinos. One unattributed 2010 posting complains that we are “importing a servant class of groundskeepers, nannies and pool boys from the Third World.” Another blamed “permanently aggrieved racial and ethnic minorities” for corporate diversity training, which it described as “a form of affirmative action in that it provides middle class jobs for those without any other marketable skills.”
The Flathead Beacon noted that Rachel Carroll Rivas, co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network thinks that Rose represents a real threat:
“I see Taylor Rose and his candidacy as one of the most overt examples of white supremacy moving into the political sphere in Montana right now,” she said. “I think Taylor Rose’s candidacy is no different than David Duke (formerly of the Ku Klux Klan) running for the Legislature, and I think people would be correct to make that comparison.”
And the Montana Cowgirl blog found racist posts about Harriet Tubman, defense of Confederate monuments, and that Rose actually gave a positive interview for a neo-Confederate magazine.
And let’s not forget his laudatory work about the neo-secessionist movement in the South.
Gianforte also donated to Robert Saunders, a legislative candidate who was exposed for his racist views:
Republican Robert Saunders is being accused of telling a black college peer at Patrick Henry College that at an earlier point in America’s history, he would have owned her. Another peer said Saunders once said President Barack Obama and his family should be “sent back to the fields to pick cotton.”
Despite claiming that he was not a racist, Saunders later had to apologize for a Facebook post that argued if more people had shot protesters in Ferguson, Missouri both welfare rolls and crime rates would decrease.
People he attended college with added to the depiction of his past, saying that he earned the nickname “Little Hitler from college classmates and that Saunders had argued that “the U.S. should “solve the ‘problem’ of Islam by forcing all US Muslims to convert to Christianity, leave, or be executed.”
Gianforte didn’t just donate to Mr. Saunders. This March, he accepted a check for $2700 for his campaign from a racist whose views were so reprehensible that even the mainstream media in Montana covered it.
In addition to his support of these candidates, Mr. Gianforte earned the support of a neo-confederate preacher from Idaho:
The Republican candidate for governor of Montana has ties to Douglas Wilson, an Idaho pastor who once wrote, “one could argue that the black family has never been stronger than it was under slavery,” and maintains that women are “created to be responsive and dependent to a man.”
And for some reason the Montana press hasn’t felt the need to cover any of this. It’s too late to ask Congressman Zinke to explain his association with Rose, but certainly someone in the press can ask Mr. Gianforte why he donated to people like this and why he failed to denounce them.
It’s not normal to support white supremacists. And it’s time for the press to stop normalizing by ignoring it.