How times change. Four years after running a campaign for governor in which he claimed that candidates who take PAC money are morally compromised and subject to undue influence, Congressman Greg Gianforte is happily raking in PAC cash to support his second bid for governor.
Even worse, he’s taking it from Koch Industries, already to the tune of $5,000, according to the latest campaign finance report from the Commissioner of Political Practices.
Back in 2016, when Greg Gianforte was self-funding another campaign for governor, he not only theatrically “tore up” campaign donations from political action committees; he clamed that doing so violated the idea of clean, transparent campaigns, saying he would “tear up and/or return any special-interest PAC donations previously sent to my campaign. Montana voters deserve a clean campaign focused on the issues.”
In the month before the election he told Montana Public Radio that candidates who take PAC money are unduly influenced, suggesting that candidates who do are selling their influence:
Gianforte says his personally financed campaign allows him to not be influenced by special interests because he doesn’t accept money from political action committees, or PACs.
As we reported in February 2018, though, it just took a little time in the D.C. trough for Gianforte to realize that his self-proclaimed integrity and refusal to be influenced mattered far less than the cash he could pocket from these groups. Thereafter, Gianforte was perfectly content to take money from coal companies, private prison companies, and yes, Koch Industries.
That $5,000 from Koch was just the tip of the iceberg. Gianforte’s report features donations from the campaign committee of a Kentucky congressman, Boots PAC, drug manufacture Merck’s PAC, and opaquely named groups like the Land of Opportunity, Conservative Promises, and Midnight Sun PACs, exactly the kind of shadowy outfits that Gianforte claimed in 2016 were dangerous because of their lack of transparency.
Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter that Gianforte was lying in his 2016 campaign stunt: that lie would probably not crack the list of the top ten most outrageous lies his campaign told. What does matter, though, is now that Gianforte has signalled that he is for sale, it’s the union-busting, environment-destroying, regulation-eliminating Kochs and the rapacious pharmaceutical manufacturers who are lining up to buy him.
Years into his political life here, Greg Gianforte still hasn’t learned that our votes aren’t for sale even if he is.