Greg Gianforte Invested Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Companies Hoping to Cash in on the Coronavirus Pandemic

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Between January 2, 2020 and March 11, 2020, Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte purchased between $375,013 and $915,000 in stocks from pharmaceutical, medical supply, and consulting companies who stood to make a profit from their work confronting the coronavirus pandemic. Disclosure forms filed with the House of Representatives show that Gianforte invested in companies that supply medical and supply kits, pharmaceuticals working on drugs to confront the virus, and consultants offering plans to mitigate its impact.

Gianforte began his stock purchases on January 2, just days after the scope of the threat from the novel coronavirus started to become known.

This table shows the purchases Gianforte reported to the House.

Date

Company

Amount

01/02/20 NV5 Global, Inc

$50,001 – $100,000

01/03/20 Roche Holdings AG Basel, 

$15,001 – $50,000

01/02/20 NV5 Global, Inc.

$50,001 – $100,000

01/07/20 NV Global, Inc.

$50,001 – $100,000

01/08/20 NV5 Global, Inc

$15,001 – $50,000

1/13/20 Chugai Pharmaceutical LTD 

$15,001 – $50,000

1/13/20 Ambev S.A.

$50,001 – $100,000

1/13/20 L’Air Liquid Ord American

$15,001-$50,000

1/13/20 Linde PLC

$15,001-$50,000

2/20/20 Shionogi & Co. LTD 

$100,001 – $250,000

03/06/20 NV5 Global, Inc.

$15,001 – $50,000

3/11/20 NV5 Global, Inc

$15,001 – $50,000

3/11/20 NV5 Global, Inc.

$1,001 – $15,000

The company with the largest number of purchases, NV5 Global, describes itself as the kind of company that would warm Gianforte’s heart. They describe themselves as focused on maximizing value for shareholders during the crisis, “a provider of professional and technical engineering and consulting solutions, announced today its delivery of facility health and safety consulting services designed to mitigate the risk of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) exposure for clients’ employees and stakeholders, while minimizing interruption to business operations.”

Shionogi & Co, which Gianforte invested as much as a quarter-million dollars in, is working on rapid testing for coronavirus using technology from a Chinese company, according to this press release:

The World Health Organization on March 11, 2020 declared the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2/COVID-19) outbreak a pandemic. While the number of infected patients is still increasing in the world, national measures are being taken in Japan. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is a method currently used to confirm patients with COVID-19 by detecting viral nucleic acids in samples taken from the nasal cavity or throat. PCR is an essential test for confirming infectious patients, but it presents problems in terms of simplicity and rapidity, such as requiring dedicated measuring equipment and requiring a relatively long time to obtain test results. Shionogi will progress discussions with MBS regarding the distribution and sales of a rapid IgG/IgM antibody-test kit for the COVID-19 (hereafter ‘COVID-19 antibody-test kit’), which is imported by MBS from a Chinese cooperative company (Vazyme Biotech, Co., Ltd.).

Chungai Pharmaceutical was testing a cocktail of drugs to treat patients:

A cocktail of antiviral drugs appeared effective in treating a seriously ill coronavirus patient, a Thai health official said. The HIV medicines lopinavir and ritonavir, which are sold by AbbVie Inc. as the product Kaletra, was used on three patients in conjunction with the anti-flu medication oseltamivir, sold by Roche Holding AG and Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. as Tamiflu, Somkiat Lalitwongsa, director of the Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok told reporters Monday. Kaletra is already being studied in a randomized, controlled trial — the gold standard for testing new medical products — in novel coronavirus patients in Wuhan, China.

Roche Holdings announced a test of their rheumatoid arthritis drug for COVID-19 treatment and even received emergency approval from the FDA for a rapid test:

According to Fortune, “Roche Holding AG said it won emergency approval from the U.S. government for a highly automated coronavirus test, potentially speeding up the ability to test patients by a factor of 10. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted ‘Emergency Use Authorization’ to the test, which runs on Roche’s cobas 6800/8800 systems. The tool also is available in Europe and countries that accept its CE marking for medical devices, Roche said.”

Gianforte also invested in companies that provide ventilation systems and medical oxygen to patients.

Gianforte invested in Air Liquide, which describes itself as a provider of “long-term home respiratory assistance,” established more than 30 30 years ago by providing support for chronic respiratory failure patients returning home from the hospital. More motivated than ever by the goal of improving patient quality of life and independence, Air Liquide Healthcare provides patients with the full range of medical respiratory assistance equipment in their own homes as part of its contribution to ensuring continuity of treatment in complete safety.”

And Linde? Gianforte invested as much as $50,000 in a company that is providing medical oxygen in China.

He even invested in Ambev, a Brazilian company that will churn out hand sanitizer:

“With alcohol gel supplies increasingly stretched, Ambev SA said on Tuesday it will use one of its Brazil beer breweries to produce half a million sanitizer bottles for public hospitals to fight the spread of coronavirus. Ambev SA, the local subsidiary of Anheuser Busch InBev , said in a statement that it plans to deliver 5,000 sanitizer gel bottles to every public hospital in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, where most of the country’s coronavirus cases are concentrated.

The findings, flagged by American Bridge, also suggest that Gianforte broke his 2017 promise to Montanans that he would put his assets in a blind trust if elected to Congress.

In 2017, when he was running against Rob Quist in the special election, Gianforte claimed that he would do so to prevent his investments affecting his decisions in Congress. From the Billings Gazette:

Greg has already promised Montanans that, if elected, he will place his assets into a blind trust to guarantee there is never any conflict of interest,’ said Brock Lowrance, campaign manager. ‘Greg will take those actions to provide a guarantee that his investments will not influence his decision making. Montanans are the ones who influence his decision making.’

That Gianforte reported these transactions suggests his investments are not in the blind trust he promised. House Ethics rules on financial disclosure specifically exempt transactions made in blind trusts from disclosure requirements:

Generally, you must disclose a trust and information concerning each asset held in a trust in which you, your spouse, or a dependent child has a beneficial interest. If you and your family members have no trusts, or if your Statement fully discloses any trust assets, check the box marked “NO.” If you have an “excepted trust” or “qualified blind trust,” as described below, you must disclose the trust, its value, and any income received by you, your spouse, or your dependent child on Schedule A, but you need not disclose its assets. You also must check “YES” in response to the “Trust” question on page 1 because you are excluding from disclosure on Schedule A certain assets contained in a trust.”

And given that Gianforte has already broken a similar promise not to take money from special interest PACs, one would have to take his claims about a blind trust with a very skeptical eye.

Was Gianforte telling the truth when he said he would put his investments in a blind trust? The disclosure forms make clear that, even though the investments were made by holding companies, Gianforte was aware of those investments even as he was speaking to the people of Montana and voting in the House.

Was Gianforte, who as recently as late February was telling Montanans to continue to invest in the stock market, acting in the best interests of Montanans or in the best interests of his personal wealth when he made massive investments in companies hoping to profit from the pandemic?

Why was Gianforte making large stock purchases into these companies as early as January 2 when his first official mention of coronavirus didn’t appear until almost two months later?

Why is Congressman Gianforte, the second wealthiest member of Congress, coming in only behind insider trading suspect Kelly Loeffler, trying to turn a profit on a global crisis that threatens the health and economic well-being of Montanans?

We deserve answers to all of these questions.

In 2017, Congressman Gianforte claimed that Montanans shouldn’t elect him because he was so rich that special interests couldn’t buy him. It would appear, though, that he’s so rich that he isn’t willing to profit from a pandemic.

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.

24 Comments

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  • Gianforte should at least be credited for consistency. When he still owned RightNow Technologies he lobbied constantly to reduce and remove government regulation and oversight of his business activities, claiming that “big government” was killing entrepreneurship. At the same time, SEVENTEEN PERCENT of the company’s revenue came from ……… government contracts.

    No wonder he’s such a devoted trumpian. His idol!!

    • That is why he rich, and your not. If you have money coming how do you invest it? He is not stupid and are you? Great post here to confirm our suspicions. How much are the Dems getting in donations from for pharmaceutical, medical supply, and consulting companies for the Obamacare single payer heath care and proposed full on single payer heath care. Lets support monopolies as long as the donate to my political party. Wake up guys.

      Remember in November.

        • And investing. Doug what would you invest in now if you had any money which you probably will not since you are overcome with group think? Suspect your bet would be the new coke or a Cigarette Holder for Two. Quit politicizing the Kung flu.

            • Opps. and very sorry. I did not realize you determined this is an offensive word and racist. I will refrain. So are you burning books also?

            • Giving victim/protected status to China now?

              Maybe we should pretend the virus started in Kansas, and blame rural white people for it.

              Then Jayhawker jokes would be offensive – Ha Ha

                • Did you think I picked Kansas up randomly?

                  History was my favorite of studies.

                  FYI – the reason it was called the Spanish Flu is because Spain remained neutral in WW1 and they were not worried about the morale of soldiers, so they were the first to report about it.

                  If you need any further information, just let me know.

        • Yes Claudius, we will finally be rid of Bullock.

          What an embarrassment he has been – thinking he was going to show Crazy Bernie and Creepy Joe how it should be done, and run for President – Ha Ha – how did that go for him?

          • @E – I’m really looking forward to seeing your bilious nastiness come November when Montana steps forward with 2 (count ’em TWO) Democratic Senators, along with a Democrat in the House, a Democratic Governor, and most (maybe all?) of the top state offices going to sensible Democrats. I’ll be listening for the exploding heads on the PSC when the low-wattage GOP toadies are joined by two very competent, independent Democrats.

            • And Hillary was going to win too right?

              Who was here telling you how it was going to go.?

              The Dems here are eventually going to match the record of the Washington Generals.

              • And Gianforte will continue to behave like Debt-Dodger Donald. It’s going to be hyuuuuugely entertaining watching the so-called president trying to figure out how he can declare bankruptcy for the entire country. I bet he tries for a mortgage on the White House with Deutsche Bank.

  • Mark needs a grammar lesson. However I think there can be an argument made about the racist attitude of the Han Chinese that are in charge in China. Racism is, and has been, a terrible problem in our country and we should be able to promote an argument without resort to such tactics

  • Looks like insider trading to me: From yesterday:
    NV5’s Quantum Spatial Selected as a Prime Consultant on $40 Million NOAA Contract
    NV5 Global, Inc. (the “Company” or “NV5”) (NVEE), a provider of professional and technical engineering and consulting solutions, announced today that Quantum Spatial, Inc. (“Quantum Spatial”), an NV5 company, has been selected as a prime consultant for a five-year, $40 million shoreline mapping support services contract contributing to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Geodetic Survey. Quantum Spatial’s expertise in the collection of topobathymetric LiDAR and the associated data analytics is a critical capability NOAA seeks to leverage as they continue to monitor coastal resources and ensure the safety of navigation. The firm has been providing topobathymetric LiDAR services to NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey Remote Sensing Division since 2013.

  • Hello Don,

    I think you’ve broken an important story here. Gianforte is seeking to profit from others misery. Rather than warning his constituency, he put himself in a position to encourage the spread of this epidemic for profit.
    Truly despicable person.

    • Thank you, great reporting. Got some companies to research on usaspending.gov. thanks! Great work!

      Recalling that he sold his “Cloud based technology” to the guy who said” Cloud based technology is nothing new, it is providing the same service as your gmail. Also stating that the TECH INDUSTRY is more fashion based than the FASHION industry… Then like 10 months later Ellison buys out Greg. Lol

      Anyways, let’s not forget that Greg and Daines, who make up GENESIS, lease the property that Oracle currently makes their offices in Bozeman.

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