FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Once again, Daines ignores the ongoing pandemic, and chooses to put himself and his campaign ahead of the health and safety of Montanans.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Gallatin County health official ‘concerned’ by rally, says not consulted by organizers
By Paul Schwedelson
“Organizers of Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign rally in Belgrade on Monday didn’t reply to the Gallatin County Health Officer’s request to plan ways to use coronavirus-related protocols, the health officer said Tuesday.
Matt Kelley emailed organizers Friday but said he didn’t receive a response. When asked if organizers communicated with Kelley before the event, Montana Republican Party spokesperson Brooke Stroyke deferred to President Donald Trump’s campaign. Trump spokesperson Ken Farnaso deferred to the Montana Republican Party.
Kelley said his goal in reaching out to organizers was to inform them of local health rules and brainstorm ways to limit the risk of spreading the virus.
“You just would hope we could work together to find ways to have events in a safe manner,” Kelley said. “We’ll continue to do that and continue to work with groups that want to do that.”
Seven hundred people attended the rally, said Julia Doyle, a spokesperson for Sen. Steve Daines. Few wore masks and few sat or stood 6 feet away from others. Pence, who is head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, didn’t wear a mask. Neither did Daines and other Republican candidates.
A large event, like the one that took place Monday, could put people at risk.
Though Kelley didn’t attend, he saw photos and reports of what happened at the rally and called it concerning.
“It’s concerning anytime we have hundreds of people gathered without social distancing, without masks,” Kelley said. “That’s a risk.”
In his email to organizers on Friday, he mentioned a local health rule says there should be no events with more than 50 people unless social distancing can be maintained and local health officials should be consulted about large gatherings.
Kelley also said if he communicated with organizers perhaps he could have helped them form strategies like how to best structure people entering and exiting the event in a safer manner.
The Montana Democratic party criticized the event.
“Instead of doing their jobs fighting for Montanans in Congress, Steve Daines and Greg Gianforte skipped work to join Vice President Mike Pence for a large rally that put Montanans’ health and safety at risk,” party spokesperson Christina Wilkes said in a statement.”
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