2017 Special Election Greg Gianforte Montana Politics

Gianforte’s Million Dollars

Let’s all be as honest as we can here: the only reason that Greg Gianforte, an inexperienced, humorless, dour bigot is a leading candidate for office in Montana is because he has money. A lot of it. There are Republicans who are far more polished politicians, far more experienced legislators, and far more decent human beings, but few can compete with the big bucks Greg brings to the table. Knowing, I think, his limitations and his one strength, the Gianforte campaign for Congress wants everyone to believe that it will have limitless money to spend in the upcoming special election.

And MTN News has helped Gianforte get that message out, reporting twice in the last week that Gianforte has raised major cash. On February 28, KPAX reported that the Gianforte campaign claimed to have raised $825,000 from 1,500 donors. Just a week later, KBZK reports that Gianforte has raised over one million dollars, this time from 2,000 donors.

There are several seemingly obvious questions about the stories. The first is simple: how in the world does MTN justify two stories about Gianforte’s fundraising within a week? The second is that, given that both stories only cite Gianforte’s campaign manager as evidence for the claims, why don’t either of the stories go into detail about the sources of those donations? Given that Mr. Gianforte spent six million dollars of his own money in a failed bid for the governor’s chair, doesn’t it seem likely that much of that million he’s raised came in the form of a check he wrote to his own campaign? Finally, if real, where did the Gianforte money come from? Is he raising from inside Montana? Out of state? Neither story provides any context about the large sums.

And that detail is hugely significant as Republicans gather to select their nominee. There’s a widespread perception among both Democrats and Republicans that the GOP is doing everything it can to ensure that Gianforte is chosen, largely because he will have the money to finance a campaign. Both MTN stories gave the Gianforte campaign an unchallenged and unvetted opportunity to assert huge momentum in the form of people so enthusiastic that they’re already donating to his campaign. That certainly helps push the other establishment GOP candidates—who seem increasingly frustrated with Mr. Gianforte—to the side. I certainly have no affection for the likes of Ken Miller or Ed Walker, but they have to be pretty damn frustrated about having to pay $1,700 to enter a race they’re not really being given much chance of winning.

In the end, I don’t believe the Gianforte campaign. While he may have a million dollars in the bank, he certainly didn’t raise it in any meaningful way from small, individual contributors. If you take the Gianforte people at their word, the average donation for that first $825,000 was $550. That certainly isn’t coming from enthusiastic, individual donors in Montana.

Let’s pretend for a minute that the Gianforte campaign is telling the truth: that, despite not having been officially selected as his party’s nominee for Congress and despite having lost the gubernatorial race that he tried to buy, he has somehow convinced two thousand people to pony up over $500 each. It’s awfully hard to believe that the people who are making the donations of that size expect Mr. Gianforte to represent average Montanans who struggle from paycheck to paycheck. The kind of people who’d give $500 to a person like Greg Gianforte expect that, just like Gianforte believes he can buy Montana voters, they can buy themselves a Congressman.

As for the stories, they’re not great reporting and worse yet, they suggest a state of the race that just might not be true. Given the number of times Mr. Gianforte lied to the Montana press and public during his last campaign, I’d hope the press would remember to be more critical about stories come from his press releases in the future.

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.


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  • Thanks for great insights and analysis. Gianforte’s new MISLEADING ads say he’ll fight for public lands access – and get this – he’ll STRENGTHEN MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY, really the guy who said work till you die like Noah!? Further, Gianforte says he ‘can’t be bought’ because we assume he’s the Billion Dollar Boy just like Trumpy?

  • You’ve obviously never met Greg. You sound bitter. I contribute small amounts to his campaign when I can. I know many others who do as well. Maybe your business should be called Big Sky Degrade. Ad hominem attacks are never allowed in real debates.

  • FYI……James Conners says people who claim Greg Gianforte is a “New Jersey” politician are liars.

    To quote Conners. . . . “The “Greg Gianforte is a New Jersey billionaire” lie is back. …..Gianforte’s actually spent more of his adult life in Montana than has Gov. Steve Bullock.…..Thus the lie, I suspect, comes easily to many Democrats. But it’s still a lie, an easily proven lie that exposes the liars as having a Trumpean disdain for fact and truth. How any of the liars think that helps Democrats win elections is beyond my ken. Democrats, tell the truth: Gianforte is a Montanan….”

  • You are spot on. He actually believes the earth came into existence by God’s hand 6,000 years ago…major alt right and this is why he could not beat Bullock for Governor. Too far out there…so far that not even all the republicans could vote for him. He built a Christian School in Bozeman that cost millions…he is the most cardboard candidate we could have…his wife is under a spell…onward…hopefully Quist will win!

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an 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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