Gianforte, Daines get stuffed by invited guest

There was a major shindig this weekend in Bozeman, a Tech Summit at which big hitters from Silicon Valley showed up at the invitation of Steve Daines to tell the crowd how Montana can grow its technology sector and thus increase the number of high wage jobs in the state. Just so everyone understands what we’re talking about here, the way these events work is that these CEOS take time out of their schedule to do Steve Daines a favor and speak at his thing, so that Daines can be the toast of the town for a day. Then when the CEOs need a tax break, they call Daines and he obliges.

Greg Gianforte was a headline speaker, and the event was as much for his benefit as it was for the topics discussed. But Gianforte got stuffed badly by one speaker, a man named Doug Burgum. As Eric Whitney recounts in a story for Montana Public Radio, Burgum started a company in Fargo, and sold it to Microsoft for three billion dollars. But at the summit, Burgum chose to talk not just about taxes and gigabytes in his speech, but about marriage equality.

His point, which he delivered directly to Gianforte and Daines who were watching from the crowd, was that if you have a right-wing social climate, you will not attract the people you need for a robust tech economy, namely, the millennials. He said:

“If you look at people that are under age 35, the vast majority of them are in favor of marriage equality, and this is a situation where, again, Montana progressively moving forward on this, helps suggest that you’re open for business for all citizens. States that are on the wrong side of this thing, they’re excluding not just the people who are directly affected, but the relatives and the friends and the supporters of people that think that all people should have equality.”

In other words, attracting young wingnuts to the state who don’t know how to use a computer is not a good idea. You need regular young people, and these folks overwhelming support marriage equality and will have reservations about moving to a place that does not endorse it.

Gianforte, of course, says exactly the opposite. He has stated publicly that Bozeman would be more likely to grow its economy if it had fewer gay people. And he and his wife have taken this line of thinking a step further and funding groups actively trying to fight for a “right to discriminate” against LGBT people.

I like Burgum’s style. He clearly knew the terrain, had boned up on Montana politics, and on Daines and Gianforte, and decided to unload on them in a nice way. Daines will probably not invite him back next time.



17 Comments on "Gianforte, Daines get stuffed by invited guest"

  1. Scratching my head here.

    Why didn’t Daines do a better job vetting these gay-agenda freedom-haters? Especially since he has all those business school interns from the Laszloffy School of Business at the University of Montana Bozeman at his fingertips?

  2. Well done piece, Cowgirl. And, oh, how much fun it would have been to have been there and to have interviewed Greg Gianforte and Steve Daines for their reactions to what Doug Burgum had had to say. Fact is, Burgum is correct. This ain’t your right-wing father’s business world, nowadays.

  3. Disregarding the politics of the marriage equality kerfuffle at the event — when you write:

    “The way these events work is that these CEOS take time out of their schedule to do Steve Daines a favor and speak at his thing, so that Daines can be the toast of the town for a day. Then when the CEOs need a tax break, they call Daines and he obliges.”

    Honest question: Would you have written the same sentence but replaced “Daines” with “Baucus” back when Baucus was hosting these shindigs?

  4. So if Gianforte is Daines’ sugar daddy, and Daines is a fifth generation Montanan, Gianforte can run as a sixth generation Montanan!!

  5. Sheila Jefferson-Ross | September 17, 2015 8:47 AM at 8:47 AM |

    There is a reason Doug Burgham was and is so successful. The CEO’s of Montana should take note. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Doug speak on many occasions and he is always insightful and genuine. Great article – so glad to see that he hasn’t lost his humanity.

  6. Montana should be the ‘Last Best Place’ for everybody, not more oath-keeper bigots only………

  7. Thumbs up Doug. Love your courage and insight.

  8. As a person who was born and raised in North Dakota I can speak to what Doug Burgum has done for this state. When I attended NDSU with him in the seventies, he was a shaker and mover then. We know how successful he has been in his business life. He is successful in my opinion because he leads having a vision, shares his vision and inspires others so they want to support his vision. All the while with integrity, honesty and humility.

  9. This statement: “Burgum chose to talk not about taxes and gigabytes in his speech, but about marriage equality” is very inaccurate. Bergum talked for a long time, and only at the very end brought up social/equality issues. As I pointed out in my story, he also called for Montana to repeal its corporate income tax, for more charter schools and for an end to burden some government regulations. I chose to report his comments on social issues because they were unusual for this kind of forum, but to characterize something he mentioned briefly at the end of a very long presentation as the presentation’s central theme is misleading.

  10. He’s just another religious nut job in Bozeman. He funds the christian school too and a creation museum.

  11. So what! Now who’s hating who? Really?

  12. @ Lucy, we may disagree about this but when someone choose to foist their ideology on others through an elected office the reaction isn’t hate.

  13. The Burgum families hands are not clean by any means. They made their original fortune by running a company town northwest of Fargo. My grandfather fled to Minneapolis to start a new life. Their family owned everything and kept everyone in a form of slavery.

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