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Greg Gianforte and Montana GOP Continue to Support Anti-Government, Anti-Law Enforcement Actors

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While the local media finally decided to cover Greg Gianforte’s record of donations to white supremacists, they’ve given him a free pass on his donations to those involved in the anti-government movement whose roots are surprisingly deep in Montana. I’ve written repeatedly about Mr. Gianforte’s support for anti-government legislators like Theresa Manzella, who supported the Malheur Occupation and violent militia ideology, Joel Boniek, who tried to take over a courtroom in Park County, and others.

A recent story in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reveals yet another troubled, anti-government loon who received the financial support of the Gianforte family and character support from Montana legislator Jedediah Hinkle.

According to the Chronicle, in 2014, James King was convicted of disorderly conduct. In a filing with the Montana Supreme Court, he argued that if he lost his case he would have to resort to a “Second Amendment” solution to the problem:

“Barring this civil remedy, the only remaining option, to my knowledge, is indeed the last, final defense of a free people against tyranny: the Second Amendment,” King wrote.

Despite his excellent legal reasoning, the Montana Supreme Court denied his appeal. After that, King was eventually jailed in March of 2017 for threatening a judge. Echoing the anti-government rhetoric one hears so often in Montana, King talked about making a “citizen’s arrest” of a judge, made a list of all the law enforcement officers in Gallatin County and their spouses, and told an informant that “At least the judge and me are going to be dead because the judge is going to be my first shot if you open fire.”

He topped it all off by delivering an angry letter to Judge Karl Seel, who oversaw his original case.

Despite what the county attorney called specific, repeated threats of violence, Republican State Senator Jedediah Hinkle wrote one of three letters supporting a reduction in King’s bail. Hinkle, a deep thinker and defender of the rights of the accused, got a moment of attention this last legislative session when he opposed changes to sexual assault laws because he was concerned that women would make retaliatory claims against former lovers, so it’s not terribly surprising that he would threaten his reputation supporting a seemingly dangerous defendant.

That takes us to Greg Gianforte, who once again demonstrated either an incredible lack of judgment or tacit support for a flawed candidate. Mr. Gianforte and his wife donated to Jim King between March and April 2016. In fact, they were the first donors to his campaign, and along with Senator Hinkle and a handful of others, the only people to give to his campaign.

While it seems that Mr. Gianforte did learn his respect for the law and what it makes to take responsibility for one’s actions from Mr. King, his donation is yet another to a person whose threats towards the judiciary represent an assault on the law that characterizes much of the anti-government movement.

Donating Boniek, Skees, Manzella, Fielder, Rose and the rest may have been politically expedient for Mr. Gianforte in his effort to woo the Montana GOP, but doesn’t he bear any responsibility for supporting the most reactionary members of the party and giving tacit endorsement to their views? Shouldn’t someone ask him to explain those donations?

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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