Major Daines Fundraiser Jumps Ship to Profit on the Coronavirus Pandemic

A crisis reveals who we are perhaps better than anything, and this story about a significant fundraiser for Steve Daines speaks volumes.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Mike Gula, a top fundraiser for several Republican senators and other groups, told clients last week of his plans to leave politics to start a new company. The new business, Blue Flame Medical, advertises “hard-to-find medical supplies,” including coronavirus test kits and respirators.

Gula had several commitments in political fundraising that are now up in the air. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who faces a competitive re-election race against Gov. Steve Bullock, was paying Gula to set up several fundraising events. Those included two canceled fundraisers in Washington this week and donor retreats in Napa, Calif., and Helena, Mont., scheduled for June and August, respectively, according to emails reviewed by the Journal.

Gula is absolutely a Republican in the mold of Greg Gianforte and Steve Daines. Politico explained how sleazy his transition to COVID-19 profiteer has been:

Gula started Blue Flame with John Thomas, a consultant who until recently worked as chief strategist for Don Sedgwick, a Republican who ran against Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) but lost in the primary earlier this month. Gula’s firm raised money for Sedgwick, according to campaign finance records.

The abrupt move to shutter Gula’s firm has set the Republican operative world ablaze, with many in the business wondering about Gula’s intentions and how he was able to move so swiftly.

Thomas declined to specify how he and Gula had managed to obtain masks that have become so rare that some hospitals have resorted to reusing them or having health care workers tie bandannas or scarfs around their faces. “It’s just relationship-based,” he said. “I can’t say anything else.”

While political committees associated with Daines have paid Gula more than $440,000 in just the past two years, the Senator offered his typical response:

Daines’ campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.

That’s Senator Steve Daines in every way.

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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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