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Lee Endorsements Brush Aside Gianforte’s Cruel Attacks and Threat to Human Life

It was a big day for the Lee editorial boards as their three largest papers came out in the Congressional race to offer endorsement. Each made it clear that Greg Gianforte represents a pressing danger to the citizens of Montana.

From the Billings Gazette:

On one hand, we have the much better known Greg Gianforte who seems to disavow the science of evolution and climate change, but then calls himself a scientist as an electrical engineer. He repeatedly talks about changing education and yet the school that he’s supported, a private one, doesn’t allow students with disabilities or behavior problems. His stance on gun control favors arming teachers and no background checks, a stance even too radical for most Montanans. Finally, his campaign couldn’t quite explain why he told us he wasn’t in favor of ripping out healthcare from more than 70,000 Montanans who depend on the Affordable Care Act and yet was caught on tape telling some East Coast Republican buddies he was “thankful” for the legislation to repeal.

From the Missoulian:

Gianforte’s views on women’s issues are similarly troubling. He would de-fund Planned Parenthood without any acknowledgement of the life-saving and quality-of-life-approving work done by this organization, or any plan to provide that care to women who would be left without a provider if Planned Parenthood were gone. He needs to understand that nearly half of Montanans are women, and he must represent their interests and not his own.

From the Independent Record:

We do have some concerns about Gianforte, however, and several of them truly involve matters of life and death. His opposition to the U.S. refugee resettlement program, for example, threatens to leave hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are trying to escape unspeakable horrors in their home countries with nowhere else to turn. While Gianforte says the U.S. has an obligation to help, he does not believe our country’s refugee vetting procedures are sufficient. But instead of seeking to scrap the program altogether, we hope he will do whatever he can as a congressman to bring those procedures to a level he deems appropriate.We are also concerned about his support for a plan that could cut health care coverage to 70,000 Montanans who may be depending on it to keep them alive. No one can say the Affordable Care Act is perfect, but we’d like to see Gianforte commit to finding a solution that works for low-income Montanans.

Perhaps the most offensive note came from the Missoulian.

The paper, ignoring its own reporting, countless press and blog accounts, and the candidate’s own words, had this to say:

“An engineer and an entrepreneur, Gianforte has also been a philanthropist through the Gianforte Family Foundation, donating to causes that further employment, education and entrepreneurship, as well as arts and culture, family programs and Christian outreach.”

Philanthropy comes from the Greek and means “man-loving,” expressing benevolence and kindness to human beings. Greg Gianforte has donated huge sums of money not for philanthropy, but for hate. For the Missoulian to ignore the real damage his donations have done is to normalize unspeakable cruelty.

I’d like to see the editorial board talk about his philanthropy to the kids who were forced to endure “conversion therapy” because of his donations. Talk about his philanthropy to the people who live in communities where they are not protected against discrimination because of their gender or sexual orientation. Talk about his philanthropy to the people Greg Gianforte has helped to demonize and marginalize at every turn.

Shame on the Missoulian for ignoring those people and affirming that a man willing to donate his fortune to harm them is somehow worthy of consideration as our member of Congress.

One also has to wonder what the Missoulian thinks has changed since October 30, when they wrote this about Mr. Gianforte:

All three editorial boards (or individuals as it’s not really clear) found reason to endorse a candidate who just last week told Montanans he would not vote for a healthcare bill that will devastate Montana before telling D.C. lobbyists the exact opposite, each hoping that a man who can’t handle being asked questions by reporters will “listen” to Montanans and abandon a cruel personal theology that has led him to donate millions of dollars to groups that have supported the vilest forms of bigotry.

I’m clearly—and admittedly—a partisan. I have a hard time imagining how the current Montana GOP could select a candidate for office I could support, but I can absolutely understand how they could choose one deserving of newspaper endorsement, despite my views. What I can’t understand is how the Lee editors could, all on the same day, endorse someone who has repeatedly lied to the public and press, run two of the most negative campaigns any of us can remember, and funded groups that are as threatening to private lives as they are to public lands.

There’s a lot of talk about Montana values in this, and every race. While no one really seems to know what that means other than how will best win election for their candidate, I’d like to posit this theory: it’s not a Montana value to attack the most vulnerable members of our society, nor is it a Montana value to endorse those who do.

At least I thought they weren’t.

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.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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  • My letter to the editor of the Missoulian:
    As a 42 year veteran of the United States military, including tours in four combat zones from Vietnam to Afghanistan, I, for one, am sickened that the Missoulian, that supposed media bastion of liberalism that was once jokingly referred to as “Pravda,” would endorse Greg Gianforte for Congress. Gianforte’s support for white supremacists, Taylor Rose and Robert Saunders, blatantly demonstrates that he is an unspeakably evil person. And you want this person to represent us in Congress? There are simply no words in English, or any language for that matter, that can explain, defend, or justify an endorsement by one of the major news agencies in the state of Montana for someone that can only be described as an unrepentant racist.
    Shockingly, this is but one of Gianforte’s despicable activities as a human being, although, undeniably, the worst. Even more astonishingly, it is but a single item on a laundry list of miss-steps and irresponsible comments perpetuated by a reptilian brain that believes that humans and dinosaurs coexisted much like ranchers and farm animals.
    This endorsement is a disgraceful act of sabotage of the democratic process and the people of Montana should be appalled.

    SGM (Ret) Michael Jarnevic

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