ANALYSIS: New Political Blog Takes Closer Look at Gianforte Ploy

The Bozeman Chronicle’s Troy Carter has launched a new political blog called “406 Politics” which I’ve added to the blogroll here and you’ll want to follow.

Carter’s first post was about all the “non-campaign staff” Gianforte keeps hiring. It makes you wonder what the co-called Better Montana Jobs really is and why an LLC purportedly focused on job creation needs so many conservative political operatives on staff.

Let’s take a look at who Gianforte has recently hired:

First, there’s Amy Lunde, who was the Deputy Political Director at the Republican Governors Association (RGA) for the 2014 campaign cycle. Prior to the RGA, she was the campaign manager on GOPer Jack Dalrymple’s 2012 campaign for governor of North Dakota.


Gianforte has a spokesperson, Mitch Staley, who managed a statewide gubernatorial campaign (remember Corey Stapleton in 2012) and interned for right-wing radio host Aaron Flint.


The Better Montana Jobs website looks more like a campaign website than a jobs promotion effort. Just like at the “About us” page [screenshot]–it’s all about Gianforte. The website also includes a handy list of Gianforte’s speaking engagements at Republican and Americans for Prosperity events across the state:
  • Keynote speech at Republican Winter Kickoff, March 1 2014, Helena
  • Radio Show “Politics Montana with Rick Tryon”, March 12, 2014
  • Keynote speaker at the Yellowstone County Republican Party’s Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, March 15, 2015, Billings
  • Keynote at Americans for Prosperity Friedman Legacy Celebration, July 31, 2014, Petra Academy, Bozeman
  • Keynote speaker at the Cascade County Republican Party’s Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, February 21, 2015, Great Falls
  • Keynote speaker at the Beaverhead County Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, February 28, 2015, Dillon
  • Keynote speaker at the Butte Silverbow County Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, March 6, 2015, Butte
  • Speaker at Flathead County Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, April 19, 2015, Kalispell
  • Gallatin County GOP Legislative Dinner, June 4, 2015, Bozeman
So is this kind of thing even allowed?
Commissioner of Political Practices John Motl weighed in on the legality of Gianforte’s ploy thusly:
“Anybody running for office is well-served if they take the highest road they can,” Motl said. “I would think that it would seem to be in the public interest — and Gianforte’s — right out of the box, to report, disclose, make the information available to the public, whether it’s required by law or not.”
Here’s what Montana law says on the matter…
13-1-101. Definitions. As used in this title, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the following definitions apply:
(6) “Candidate” means:
(a) an individual who has filed a declaration or petition for nomination, acceptance of nomination, or appointment as a candidate for public office as required by law;
(b) for the purposes of chapter 35, 36, or 37, an individual who has solicited or received and retained contributions, made expenditures, or given consent to an individual, organization, political party, or committee to solicit or receive and retain contributions or make expenditures on the individual’s behalf to secure nomination or election to any office at any time, whether or not the office for which the individual will seek nomination or election is known when the:
(i) solicitation is made;
(ii) contribution is received and retained; or
(iii) expenditure is made.; or


The Standard asked Gianforte if he would be reporting the expenditures as campaign expense, but Gianforte didn’t answer the question, stating, “I’m not a candidate.”


His hires keep saying otherwise.


5 Comments on "ANALYSIS: New Political Blog Takes Closer Look at Gianforte Ploy"

  1. Whether any of this deception will matter once he finally declares is the question. It may to some degree in the general election, but it will cost him very little with his base in a primary. This kind of behavior is pretty much business as usual with this crowd.

  2. Sons of Anarchy | July 23, 2015 1:14 PM at 1:14 PM |

    By “this crowd” do you mean republicans or all partys Sal? As I recall Bullock is the Head of the DGA which will funnel tons of money towards his reelection. And he as already hired a hot shot Campaign manager from the East coast for the upcoming race. Pot calling the kettle black here or are you stating the whole smokescreen by both sides is a sham? just curious.

    • Nice try, but no. Non-termed elected officials with booked outstanding campaign funds are already declared as candidates to retain office until they declare they are not running or declare for another office. Being already declared, Bullock is not restricted on campaign spending or activity in the manner that a non-declared candidate is, like Gianforte. Before caterwauling about hypocrisy, you might want to research exactly what you are talking about.

    • After all, it’s not like it isn’t right there in the post or anything …

  3. Typo: “Just like at”

    Please fix.

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