Greg Gianforte and his wife have set up a foundation which has been bankrolling a plethera of organizations found to have been involved in deceptive practices, pushing junk science, and peddling plain, old-fashioned bad information.
A review of the stuff Gianforte is abetting includes some things we’ve all known about – and a few surprises, as a peek at the publicly-available 990s of the Gianforte Family Foundation, filed in 2013, show us. Let’s take a look.
We know about the fake museums Gianforte’s been setting up across the U.S. –but did you know Gianforte gave $70,000 to the “Veritas Forum” which promotes creationism on college campuses. Gianforte also gave $45,000 to another creationism and evangelism promoting group, the so-called “Wonders of Science Institute.”
Fake Medical Clinics
Public records show Gianforte’s money accounts for nearly a quarter of the entire budget of three so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in Montana. As RH Reality Check reports, the centers are among those examined in a recent undercover study by NARAL Pro-Choice Montana which found they provided “biased and incorrect information” and “failed to abide by applicable regulations to protect consumers.”
In fact, as the Washington Post reported recently, the practices of these fake clinics were so deceptive that Google removed search ads for the entities after reviewing evidence that they “violate Google’s policy against deceptive advertising.”
For example, the organization found that a search of “abortion clinics” in Bozeman, actually returns two CPC hits thanks to deceptive adwords ads: Montana Pregnancy Resource Centers in Belgrade and Zoe’s. So you can see why the organization is concerned that women facing a difficult decision will be led to believe that these resources provide abortion services, when their real intention is to actually block a woman from choosing legal abortion. Both depend on Gianforte for nearly a quarter of their budgets.
According to the report, the Zoe website told women who are pregnant they should come in for an ultrasound to see if they might “miscarry naturally, at which point an abortion is simply an unnecessary expense.” The goal apparently was to take advantage of a woman’s anxiety, while downplaying the importance of seeking actual medical care, as in “don’t worry, you might not even need to do anything! Just come to our fake clinic!” As Pro-Choice Montana explains:
“This could result in such a delay in care that she loses an opportunity to consider all of her options—and even fail to seek prenatal care until much later in her pregnancy. But if the website’s promise of a miscarriage results in its likely intent—to bring a woman into the crisis pregnancy center – a woman will find herself faced with a variety of misleading and inaccurate information regarding her options.”
Secret shoppers who went to the fake clinics were found to have been given all kinds of false medical advice. Again from the report:
“The nurse…talked about abortion potentially causing breast cancer due to the increase in HCG [human chorionic gonadotropin]. The other risk focused on was cervix incompetence. She…illustrated on the diagram how it [the cervix] could become ‘too stretched out’ and that could lead to later miscarriages and potentially lead to not being able to have children in the future.” –“Secret Shopper” after visiting Zoe’s (Zoe Care) in Bozeman.
“…I asked if they had studies on this information and their response was ‘oh, somewhere around here yes.’ They didn’t pull out these studies, but instead…went digging for graphic abortion videos.” –“Secret Shopper” after visiting St. Catherine’s Pregnancy Resource Center in Belgrade
Gianforte also funds “Options” Women’s Clinic, Helena MT. Total annual budget $396k. [screenshot] Gianforte funds $75k [screenshot] (Read about Options and others of that ilk are up to in the Pro-Choice Montana report.)
Fake Conservation Group
Gianforte supports a group called “FREE” or the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment. The organization bills its views as “the norm among progressive, intellectually honest and successful environmentalists.” But in reality, it is an anti-environmental group run by John Baden (a past member of the National Petroleum Council).
Fake Grassroots Group
The Gianfortes also gave money to the astroturf group Americans for Prosperity, which spent the legislative session attacking Republican legislators it thought would support Medicaid expansion with town hall meetings and attack mail. The group is also funded by the Koch Brothers and is behind much of the internal strife afflicting the MTGOP.
Montana Family Foundation: Gianforte funded $155,000 of the organization’s annual budget. That’s about half of the group’s activities, after you take out Jeff Laszloffy’s salary ($133,000). The Family Foundation is also the group of imbeciles from Laurel, Montana who once celebrated their hatred of gay people with by throwing a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day with stale chicken they had bussed in from out of state. The organization, in addition to its work to enshrine a right to discriminate against LGBT Montanans, fought to block a dark money disclosure bill during the 2015 session – a bill that would help Montanans know who is bankrolling campaign expenditures.
Alliance Defending Freedom: Gianforte gave $25,000 to the anti-gay hate group behind TEA Party supreme court candidate Lawrence VanDyke. That group runs a very shady project called the “Blackstone Project” which places ultra-conservative lawyers in positions where they commit to working to “’reorder society’ according to a ‘christendomic’ worldview, in which there is no separation between church and state.”