In 2011, Steve Daines secured a $752,888.50 mortgage for a 40-acre property in Gallatin County from Yellowstone Bank, a family-owned bank whose owners and officers have contributed $48,000 to Daines election efforts since 2013, a contribution amount that just happened to coincide with the bank’s officers thanking Daines for relaxing federal banking regulations.
Daines and his wife purchased the property, a 40.765-acre plot with no improvements, for an undisclosed amount in June 2010. The property was assessed in 2012 with a property value of 1.2 million in 2012.
It was their first real estate purchase since June 1999, when they bought their primary residence.
But that is when things get interesting. In October 2011, Daines secured the $750,000 mortgage with a maturity date of November 5, 2012, just one day before Daines was elected to the US House. The maturity date was modified to November 5, 2022, according to records filed on September 4, 2012, with the Gallatin County Clerk as it was becoming increasingly clear that he was likely to win his 2012 bid.
The mortgage was paid off in 2017, according to Senate financial disclosure reports.
Yellowstone Bank and Senator Daines seem to have enjoyed this mutually beneficial arrangement. James and Jay Harris, the Chairman and President of the family-owned bank, along with Vice President Julie Taylor, have donated $48,000 to Senator Daines since 2013, and publicly credited him with rolling back the Dodd-Frank reforms enacted after the 2008 financial meltdown. From Senator Daines’s web site:
“Senator Daines has consistently fought for main street and against burdensome regulations like Dodd Frank from day one” – Jay Harris, President Yellowstone Bank.
Republicans love talking about “draining the swamp,” but you can be certain they don’t mean relationships like these between Daines and his bankers and backers. If we want to clean up Washington, we need to start by cleaning out the kinds of Senators who just can’t seem to help but help themselves and their friends at every turn.