A bizarre endorsement for Gianforte

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Who the hell is Charlie Kirk besides being the latest to endorse Rep. Greg Gianforte’s candidacy for governor?

Gianforte is touting this endorsement on social media along with more recognizable individuals and organizations. Folks like Donald Trump Jr. and groups such as the Gun Owners of America (an organization that makes the NRA seem tame) and the misnamed Susan B. Anthony List (a rabid antichoice outfit) have jumped on the Gianforte bandwagon.

But Charlie Kirk?

Turns out he’s the 26-year-old founder of Turning Point USA (TPUSA). Here’s Wikipedia’s description of Turning Point and a profile of Kirk:

Since 2016, Turning Point USA has maintained a Professor Watchlist, which lists college professors whom it alleges discriminate against conservative students and advance left-wing propaganda in the classroom. The organization has also secretly attempted to influence student government elections in an effort to “combat liberalism on college and university campuses”. In December 2017, former employees of the organization accused it of engaging in racist practices, as well as potentially illegal involvement in the 2016 presidential election. The Anti-Defamation League refers to TPUSA as an “alt-lite” organization. CBS News has described the organization as a far-right organization which is “shunned or at least ignored by more established conservative groups in Washington, but embraced by many Trump supporters”.

Gianforte may be catering to the youth vote. There is a chapter at Montana State University. However, outside of Moo U, are there more than two-dozen young people in Montana who know who Kirk is or what TPUSA does or even care?

He could be trolling for campaign dollars from Turning Point contributors like Wyoming multi-millionaire Foster Friess, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, and the Uihlein Foundation, all major donors.

It is still a strange endorsement to promote. Here’s some more info on Charlie Kirk’s organization:

• A private brochure, handed out only to Turning Point donors, highlighted the organization’s alleged strategy to take over student governments at universities across the country, and included a list of every Turning Point-supported student who was elected to student government positions in the year 2017. Turning Point said that it had helped more than 50 conservatives win elections to become student-body presidents. However, when Politico looked into Turning Point’s claims, it found the “success rate to be considerably overstated. In fact, some of the students that Turning Point USA claimed to have backed flatly condemned the organization and said they’d never spoken to anyone who works for it.”

• TPUSA has consistently violated its 501 (c) (3) nonprofit status by colluding with conservative candidates. In 2017, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker described two separate actions by Turning Point staff in the 2016 election that appear to have violated campaign finance regulations.

• Turning Point USA is pro-military and pro-police. It supports the NRA and the use of fossil fuels and opposes groups such as Black Lives Matter.

• In 2019, Right Wing Watch has reported that TPUSA has used staff and resources for political action against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

• In 2018, The Southern Poverty Law Center Hatewatch documented TPUSA’s links to white supremacists.

It’s an exhaustive list of deceit, bigotry and malfeasance.

Who’s next on Gianforte’s endorsement list: Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, Dennis Hastert?  The man has no shame.

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

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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