Greg Gianforte and Robert Saunders. Image from Facebook
Greg Gianforte Montana Politics

Did Greg Gianforte Lie to Donors About Matching Their Donations?

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Despite media accounts saying that Greg Gianforte received over $100,000 in donations following his assault of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs and a promise from Mr. Gianforte to personally match all donations received in the last twenty-eight hours of the race, it appears the Bozeman multimillionaire did not match a single donation.

About two hours after he threw Ben Jacobs to the ground and started punching him, Greg Gianforte sent me (and his supporters) an e-mail offering to match donations dollar for dollar until the polls closed the next day. From the e-mail:

For the next 24 hours – until the polls close – I will personally match every donation made to my campaign, dollar for dollar – up to $1,000,000. But all donations have to be made with the special links in this email.

So important was the offer that Gianforte closed his e-mail telling supporters that “together we can save this country.”

And the money poured in. Sources from the deeply apologetic Gianforte campaign leaked to the press that they raised $100,000 after the assault.

Putting aside how repulsive it is that these staffers who certainly lied to Montana voters and the press—and likely law enforcement—about the assault were boasting about raising money because their candidate assaulted someone, it seems clear they did indeed raise money in those hours after Gianforte made his pledge.

According to Politico, Gianforte received $118,000 the day after the attack, doubling his total from the day before. Among the donations, Gianforte received a $1,000 donation from fellow plutocrat Frederick Smith, vice president and director of Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the same media outfit that refused to play audio of Gianforte’s assault.

It’s pretty clear that Gianforte received $118,000 on May 25 alone and almost certainly received some money once cable news started reporting his assault on May 24, after the e-mail pledging to match donations was sent out. I’m sure every Trump bumper sticker sporting, All Lives Matter advocate for violence against the press wanted to be the first on his block to show support for the assault, after all. And surely some of them responded to the Gianforte mailer, which was sent out after news of his assault broke.

And yet, according to the Jun 27 filing with the FEC, candidate Gianforte donated exactly $0 to his campaign.

He did give the campaign $2,000,000 in loans, but the loans were given to the campaign before the pledge and it would be quite a stretch to suggest they would represent Gianforte “personally” matching donations received in the last 28 hours.

It’s certainly not an uncharacteristic con for Gianforte, who was chosen as the GOP candidate largely because of the size of his checkbook, not his heart or intellect.

Perhaps Gianforte was saving money to pay back taxes to the people of Gallatin County or for legal bills following his assault, but the most likely answer is that he just chose to treat his supporters like the rubes he so clearly seems to think they are.

The fifth wealthiest member of Congress, with a net worth 171 times the average member of Congress, and Gianforte can’t cut a check and honor a promise to his supporters? What in the hell does that suggest he’ll do to the rest of us?

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a 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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  • Since Gianforte made his personal $2 million contribution to his own campaign in the form of a loan (and not a gift or grant) his contributors’ money can go straight into Gianforte’s personal bank account until the $2 million is re-paid.
    Isn’t it great having followers willing to give their hard-earned money to help out a billionaire?

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