Daines,Gianforte, and Montana Republicans Take Dirty Money from Company That Shafted Its Workers and Enriched Executives Despite Bankruptcy

Montana Republicans love coal almost as much as they love the campaign contributions that the coal industry shovels their way to prop up an increasingly unsustainable and undeniably polluting industry.  For the sake of a little bit of dirty money, Daines, Gianforte and other Montana Republicans have been unrelenting cheerleaders for the dying industry, including for Cloud Peak Energy which is collapsing because of mismanagement and greed.

That greed has been on full display as Cloud Peak goes through the process of bankruptcy. Despite cutting health care benefits for retired workers last fall, Cloud Peak is giving massive bonuses to the very executives that drove the company into ruin. From the Sightline Institute:

It may seem strange, but the management team that drove Cloud Peak into a ditch will emerge from the bankruptcy process not merely unscathed, but rich. In a recent SEC filing, Cloud Peak reported that total incentives and retention bonuses for its “key” executives could exceed $16 million for the year.This year’s massive payout comes on top of a whopping $78 million that Cloud Peak’s top brass took home between 2010 and 2017, according to the company’s financial filings.

In fact, as the Wall Street Journal notes, Cloud Peak paid just nine executives nearly $6 million in bonuses just months before declaring bankruptcy.

Cloud Peak’s behavior—slashing health care benefits for those who actually did the dangerous and unhealthy work of extracting coal while shifting millions to a few executives—is just more evidence of the con Republicans are playing on workers: while politicians argue that they are working to save jobs, the priority is ensuring that those at the top reap the rewards, promises to workers and local communities be damned.

And Montana Republicans, led by Greg Gianforte and Steve Daines, have been along for the ride, taking money from Cloud Peak to do its bidding in Congress and cheerlead for it in the media.

Daines, Gianforte, and the Montana Republican State Central Committee were among the top recipients of Cloud Peak money in 2018, taking in almost $15,000 from the company in 2018 alone. In 2014, Daines received an additional $10,000, and in 2012, he and Denny Rehberg received almost $20,000.

And that money seems to have bought silence in the face of the betrayal of workers. Gianforte and Daines, happy to take campaign contributions from Cloud Peak, have been silent as the company’s top executives have stolen money that rightfully belonged to workers.

Where are the press releases demanding that Cloud Peak honor its commitment to its retirees? The demands that executives not give themselves massive bonuses for having crashed the company?

As we head into another campaign season, don’t be fooled by Daines and Gianforte claiming they support jobs or workers. Their interest is always with the monied class that will turn its back on those workers the moment an opportunity presents itself, giving themselves the gold and making sure that workers just get the shaft.

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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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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  • You must back this up by solid references or you can be liable in so many ways. Also, when did they receive the funds in regards to what the company ended up doing. Democrats are pulling all and any stops in regards to slamming Republicans to win an edge regardless of the negative legalities. I am the top clean energy and water inventor and still support our fossil fuel and mining industries. What the corporates do after the fact is not an area you can slam recipients of donations. My tech will all the way down the line, clean up this fossil fuel industry. If I came in with a crew and documented all the products you have to live and are using that are from the fossil industry, you would not even be able to write your story.

    • One would think the “top clean energy and water inventor” would have more on his hands than commenting on this blog, but I literally linked the donation dates in the article.

      Thanks for the comment.

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