Culture Featured Greg Gianforte Montana Politics

The Delicious Defeat of Jeff Laszloffy’s Bigoted Initiative

I’ve been meaning to write about the failure of the Greg Gianforte-funded Montana Family Foundation to gather enough signatures on the ballot for their latest bigoted ballot initiative, but I have found myself smiling so broadly at Jeff Laszloffy’s failure to con Montana voters with his despicable fear-mongering that I forget to write what I intended.

Talk about an embarrassing defeat for the hate group that relies on contributions from rich bigots like Greg and Susan Gianforte and shaking down nice old ladies with the kinds of appeals that would shame a televangelist. One assumes Laszloffy went back to the same well one more time assured of success: demonize a vulnerable group of people, misrepresent their interests and the law, and shakedown churchgoers for another scam to personally enrich Laszloffy and potentially traumatize kids who simply wanted to be treated as the people they are.

It’s a hopeful sign that the same playbook didn’t work this time. For too long, Laszloffy and his organization have been the spearhead of the most hateful elements of the conservative movement, an organization and leader afforded the respect due a “mainstream” conservative organization despite an agenda that matches the worst of the patriot Christian right.

Laszloffy and the Family Foundation are one of the primary avenues by which anti-government extremists have pushed their anti-school agenda through the Legislature and by which fundamentalist extremists have launched many of their attacks on the LGBTQ community and the rights of women.

And it’s delicious to see them fail so spectacularly, especially on an issue that’s so important to a growing number of transgender kids in our schools and one so easy for extremists to manipulate.

We can’t just gloat over this victory, though. Okay, we can for awhile because it’s excellent and I imagine it bothers Mr. Laszloffy even more to know that people of good will are overjoyed at his failure. That’s evident, given his refusal to discuss his failure with the press.

But once that’s over, we need to keep up the pressure on Laszloffy and his group, continuing the work of exposing the political candidates he supports and is supported by and continuing to resist the dishonest information the Family Foundation will no doubt continue to produce.

The linkages between mainstream Republicans, organizations like Laszloffy’s, and the extremist anti-government, sovereignty movement have been one of the major underreported stories in Montana politics over the past few years. There’s little mystery, for instance, why Greg Gianforte, the Republican Congressman from Montana, received and took donations from white supremacists and was one of the leading bankrollers of the hate merchants at the Family Foundation.

It’s one big tree with a lot of rotten branches.

That makes it imperative for all of us to continue watching Laszloffy, his organizations, and the others that seek to exploit bigotry and base fear to divide us. One setback, wonderful as it is, certainly won’t stop them.

And it won’t stop us.

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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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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