Missoulian Columnist: “Gianforte trying to buy Montana Governor’s Office”

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Monday, October 26, 2020

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Missoulian Columnist: “Gianforte trying to buy Montana Governor’s Office”
 
“Greg Gianforte just set a new low”
 
Helena, MT – After news broke last week that New Jersey megamillionaire Greg Gianforte unloaded another $4 million from his personal bank account into his floundering campaign for governor, Missoulian columnist George Ochenski has declared that “Gianforte [is] trying to buy [the] Montana Governor’s Office.”

According to Ochenksi, “Greg Gianforte just set a new low,” and “what his move actually shows is that Montanans are simply not willing to pony up their own hard-earned cash to support his candidacy.”

Comparing Gianforte to the notorious Copper Kings, Ochenski wrote“throwing vast amounts of his own money into his campaign does nothing to overcome Gianforte’s demonstrated lack of judgment and leadership abilities — but it may just cost him the election if Montanans decide the Governor’s Office is not for sale.”

MissoulianGianforte trying to buy Montana Governor’s Office
By: George Ochenski

Montanans have seen a lot of strange political shenanigans over the years, but Republican candidate for governor Greg Gianforte just set a new low by trying to buy his way into the Governor’s Office with $7.55 million of his own money. Sadly, what his move actually shows is that Montanans are simply not willing to pony up their own hard-earned cash to support his candidacy. And given our history with attempts to buy our political offices in the past, it may — or may not — succeed.

We can roll back the clock to recall Butte’s notorious Copper Kings using the vast wealth of their personal fortunes to buy judges, legislators, newspapers and, in the case of William A. Clark, a U.S. Senate seat. While Clark initially won, the U.S. Senate refused to seat him. As noted by the U.S. Senate’s official website, the investigation into Clark’s perfidy “detailed a dazzling list of bribes ranging from $240 to $100,000. In a high-pressure, well-organized scheme coordinated by Clark’s son, Clark’s agents had paid mortgages, purchased ranches, paid debts, financed banks, and blatantly presented envelopes of cash to legislators. In addition, the winning margin in Clark’s election had been secured by the votes of eleven Republican legislators under suspicious circumstances. Clark did not enhance his position when he admitted that he had destroyed all his personal checks that dealt with campaign transactions.” Undeterred by his self-inflicted scandal, Clark was finally successful and served one term in the Senate from 1901 until 1907.

Comes now Greg Gianforte, who made his fortune selling a software company — and then deciding to steer Montana’s future by running for governor against then-Attorney General Steve Bullock. He lost that bid, but went on to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, albeit besmirched by his notorious body-slamming of an innocent reporter just days before the election.

To put it mildly, Gianforte has been no great shakes as a congressman and has mostly served as Donald Trump’s puppet, not challenging the many deleterious actions of this irresponsible president. That would include mimicking Trump’s foolish disdain for social distancing and wearing masks to combat the rapidly mounting toll of death and suffering inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Just recently he attended a “Let Freedom Ring” concert in the Helena valley where the sponsors told the county health department they would follow its pandemic safety guidelines — and didn’t. A maskless Gianforte was there, being “free” while exposing who knows how many people to infection, sickness and death. Thanks to that exact kind of disregard for science and public safety by President Trump, it’s estimated hundreds of thousands of Americans are needlessly dead from COVID-19, leaving their loved ones to grieve.

Although Clark destroyed traces of his money-shifting, Gianforte was recently cited by the Office of Political Practices for violating Montana’s campaign finance laws. Moreover, when you look at the enormous sum of money he has “loaned” his campaign, it’s basically twice as much as he was able to raise from contributors.

Being wealthy is not a crime, but Montanans are wary of those who lavishly self-fund political campaigns for our highest offices. Of note in recent history, Democratic State Auditor Mark O’Keefe dumped $2 million into his gubernatorial bid weeks before the election — but lost to his severely underfunded opponent, Judy Martz. Throwing vast amounts of his own money into his campaign does nothing to overcome Gianforte’s demonstrated lack of judgment and leadership abilities — but it may just cost him the election if Montanans decide the Governor’s Office is not for sale.

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