Let me say it plainly: Greg Gianforte is a liar and too dishonest to be Montana’s next governor.
If the nation has learned anything in the past three years, it’s that no institution can long endure if its leader is willing to say anything, no matter how false, to gain elected office.
While cataloging an exhaustive list of Gianforte’s lies would be an exhausting task, three big lies demonstrate that he is unfit to be the next governor of our state.
Gianforte lied about putting his investments in a blind trust
After his investments in Russian stock were exposed in 2017, Gianforte pledged that he would put “all his assets in a blind trust.”:
Shane Scanlon, a spokesman for Gianforte, told the Guardian that the Republican candidate did not oversee his portfolio on a day-to-day basis. Instead, Gianforte focused on the “overall performance”, he said.
If elected, he said, the Montana Republican would put all his assets in a blind trust to avoid any conflict of interest as well as the fact that Gianforte had released 10 years of tax returns. He added in a statement: “Greg strongly believes his personal assets should never influence his decision-making in office.”
He doubled down on that claim during the April debate with Rob Quist during that special election, telling the Montana press that to guarantee he wouldn’t have a conflict of interest, he would put all his investments in a blind trust:
“We have a broad range of investments. Anyone who invests in emerging markets around the world have investments in Russia. These are a tiny portion of our portfolio. Now, let me say clearly, there cannot be any conflict, and, if elected, I will put all of our investments into a blind trust to guarantee that there is no conflict.”
And that promise just wasn’t real. As we reported last week, Gianforte was undoubtedly aware of his personal holdings in January-March when he was investing in companies that were trying to stake out a profit during the COVID-19 pandemic while he was casting votes on that very issue.
In fact, Gianforte, who strangely did not report any financial disclosure in 2019, has been reporting his investment transactions from the moment he entered Congress, with specific transactions noted as early as July 2017. Gianforte has been investing in tobacco companies, pharmaceuticals, private prisons and more–all while casting votes on those issues in Congress.
Gianforte lied. And Gianforte engaged in the very “conflict of interest” he said could not happen while he was in Congress.
Gianforte lied about taking money from Special Interests
During his 2016 bid for governor, Gianforte told the Montana press and public that he would not take PAC money because taking it meant special interests were buying politicians:
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.
That pledge didn’t last long. By the 2017 special election for Congress, Gianforte was caught on tape begging corporate donors for $5,000 checks to fund his campaign:
“The Democrats have fired up this ActBlue organization,” he said on an audio recording obtained by The New York Times, referring to the online Democratic fund-raising hub. “We’re seeing about $70,000 a day pouring into the state from liberals in San Francisco, New York and Hollywood.”Asking the lobbyists to give $5,000 each by Friday to “scare off some other Democrat money,” Mr. Gianforte acknowledged that Mr. Quist had far wider support.
“We’ve had over 5,000 individual people support the campaign financially so far,” he said on the recording. “The challenge is my opponent has over 30,000 contributors.”
And he’s now taking PAC money for his bid for governor:
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.
Was Congressman Gianforte lying when he said that PAC money bought politicians, or was he lying the entire time when he told us he wouldn’t take it?
Gianforte lied to law enforcement about his assault
We all know that Congressman Gianforte assaulted a reporter the night before his special election win, but what has been covered less is the fact that he lied to law enforcement after his attack.
As the Bozeman Chronicle reported in November 2017:
When first asked what happened shortly after Greg Gianforte assaulted a newspaper reporter, the then-candidate misled investigators by blaming his victim and claiming the incident was the fault of the liberal media “trying to make a story.”
“He’s trying to create a story right now,” Gianforte told a deputy of his victim, Ben Jacobs of the Guardian.
Audio of Gianforte’s interview with a Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office sergeant was released along with a slew of other documents requested by the Chronicle after Gianforte was cited for assaulting Jacobs on May 24.
The night of the attack, Gianforte’s spokesman Shane Scanlon (who is now campaign manager for Steve Daines) offered the initial lie as campaign spin, and in November 2017 Gianforte’s congressional spokesman, despite the released audio and statements of witnesses, maintained that Gianforte had not lied the night of the assault.
Gianforte never, as he promised, gave Ben Jacobs, the reporter he assaulted, an on-the-record interview, even though he swore at his sentencing hearing to do so.
Gianforte lied to Montanans. He lied the law enforcement. He lied to his victim. He lied to the judge.
Gianforte Just Cannot Be Trusted. The Press Must Hold Him Accountable
We could certainly talk about Gianforte’s lies that he would drain the swamp in D.C., his dishonestly taking credit for spending measures he voted against, his support for a sales tax, his promise to Republicans that he wasn’t using the 2017 Congressional bid as a stepping stone for another bid for governor, or any of the other lies he’s casually and repeatedly told us, but these three big lies get to his fundamental unfitness for office.
Whether it’s about his finances, his campaigning, or his personal flaws, Greg Gianforte just cannot tell the truth.
Montana is facing a critical election in 2020. While this little blog is happy to keep pointing out Gianforte’s dishonesty, the media has a far more important role to play here. They need to get answers from Gianforte about his personal finances, his broken campaign pledge, and even his failure to follow through with what he promised to do in open court three years ago.
One can only hope we’ll get those stories, stories that go to the heart of whether Montanans in the public or the press can trust anything Greg Gianforte tells them.