Greg Gianforte’s Deference to President Trump Could Cost Montana Millions

When it comes to deciding whether he’ll represent the people of Montana or defer to President Trump’s misguided policy, there’s no debate for Congressman Gianforte: the President, no matter how bad his plans are for the people of Montana, is always right.

American Ledger is reporting that Gianforte has remained silent about the President’s plan to shift $3.8 billion from fighter jets, ships, and other vehicles to fund the construction of his border wall.

Among the programs slated for cuts is the F-35 program, a plane that could not be built without Montana business. Just ask Senator Steve Daines, who in August said that the program is responsible for 190 jobs and $16 million in economic impact:

Montana congressional leaders were at the Helena Regional Airport on Monday, where they were given the chance to virtually pilot the F-35 fighter jet.

Pioneer Aerostructures, based in Helena, makes the bulkheads that support the F-35 and is one of three companies in the state to make parts for the aircraft.

“We estimate there’s 190 direct and indirect jobs produced because of what’s going on right now at Pioneer Aerostructures. That’s a 16 million dollar economic impact for the state of Montana,” said Senator Steve Daines, R-Montana.

Gianforte himself appeared at a press event to tout the F-35 program and call for swift Congressional action:

“It’s now on the shoulders of Congress to ensure that we buy enough of these aircraft and deliver them fast enough,” said Congressman Greg Gianforte, R-Montana.

But Gianforte, who has stood by the President’s disastrous trade policy despite its impact on Montana agriculture and his tax cut that added over a trillion dollars to the deficit, has refused to stand for the program or the national security and state economic benefits he touted just months ago.

Even a Texas Republican far closer to the Mexican border had the courage to rebuke the Trump administration for its decision, as Politico notes:

A chorus of Democrats swiftly condemned the money grab, as did the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas.

In a statement, Thornberry dinged the Pentagon for shifting money specifically allocated by Congress and said the move “undermines the principle of civilian control of the military and is in violation of the separation of powers.”

“The re-programming announced today is contrary to Congress’s constitutional authority, and I believe that it requires Congress to take action,” Thornberry said. “I will be working with my colleagues to determine the appropriate steps to take.”

A small measure of courage or independence to defend a program he called critical for Montana and the nation is all it would take for Greg Gianforte to question the President’s decision. And if he had the influence over Trump he claims on the stump, perhaps he could even help reverse this decision.

But Greg Gianforte just can’t be trusted, either to tell us the truth or stand up for Montana. And we can’t trust him to lead us as our governor.

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 tell me when the the next kid that dies from fentanyl laced meth where it came from. A border crossing or from the backpacks of a Sonoran desert drug mules. And F-35’s will be built on schedule or they slip the schedule. Dummy… this your first rodeo?

    • I’m sure you’re smarter than I am, Mark, given your need to call me “dummy” and demonstrate the most unique use of ellipsis I’ve ever seen, but perhaps you should know what the experts know. The drugs come right through the border crossings:

      According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, 90 percent of heroin seized along the border, 88 percent of cocaine, 87 percent of methamphetamine, and 80 percent of fentanyl in the first 11 months of the 2018 fiscal year was caught trying to be smuggled in at legal crossing points.

      While those numbers deal only with drugs that are caught, border experts say the data accurately reflect the way drug cartels successfully smuggle narcotics into the country.

      And you don’t have to take my word for it about the need for the F-35s. Daines and Gianforte made the case themselves.

      Thanks for playing.

      • Let the experts handle this not the biased press.

        President Trump’s proposed border wall will help federal agencies secure the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Carla Provost, the newly announced chief of U.S. border patrol.

        “Most certainly, it already assists my men and women,” Provost told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton on Wednesday.

        “We already have many miles, over 600 miles of barrier along the border. I have been in locations where there was no barrier, and then I was there when we put it up. It certainly helps. It’s not a be all end all. It’s a part of a system. We need the technology, we need that infrastructure,” she added in the interview that aired Thursday.

        “We need the agents to be able to respond when there is traffic to the area, and we need access and mobility. A lot of the areas along the border are very difficult for us to access,” Provost said.

        “It’s that combination of those four things, impedance and denial, technology, access and mobility, and then the men and women,” she said. “That’s that kind of, I guess that magic combination that we have found over the 23 years I have been in. It’s a different combination everywhere that we go. There’s no one size fits all, but we definitely need all of those things.”

        • Your mega spun bias article is pretty good as stats on seized drugs, where are the stats on the drugs that did not get seized? Like a bust in Great Falls that netted 1 pound of meth, $19,000 in heroin or five pounds of meth and one pound of marijuana in the Flathead Valley.

        • Cool take.

          You should probably note that my initial story cited U.S. Customs and Border Protection. I suspect they are experts.

          As for Provost? A real leader:
          The revelations over secret Facebook groups popular with Border Patrol agents were eye-popping. A constant stream of racist, sexist and violent images persisted for years, reporters revealed. Days later, officials said those responsible for posts were previously investigated, with unclear results.

          Then, in testimony Wednesday, Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost acknowledged that she was a member of one of the groups; she had been active since at least last fall, according to images published by the Intercept.

      • More than 70 pounds of methamphetamine were seized in a traffic stop on I-90 in Stillwater County on Tuesday, according to The Stillwater County News.

        I don’t know if this was hauled on a 4-wheeler across the border, or driven through a checkpoint, but it’s obvious that the meth epidemic is the most pressing problem in the USA.

        • How is it more pressing than the poverty that destroys the future of millions of American kids? The racism that denies opportunities to millions more? The alcoholism that wreaks havoc on our towns and families?

          Sure, meth is a problem. No one disagrees with that. But to suggest that the answer is building an ineffectual wall when we know that meth goes through border checkpoints is not an answer.

  • Did Montana Post cover this story? Funny how it seems to be swept under the carpet. You’d think it would be mega news.

    Anna Michelle Niles, 47, of Bozeman, appeared on charges of wire fraud on Feb. 18.
    According to court documents, Niles allegedly stole approximately $433,018.80 from Clair W. Daines, Inc., a business owned by the father of U.S. Senator Steve Daines. Senator Daines lists on his financial disclosures that he has been a partner in Genesis Partners since 1998. Genesis Partners is a company that was 50 percent owned by Congressman Greg Gianforte as of 2010, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that year.

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