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In Butte Today, Gianforte to Push Extreme Agenda on Montanans

Montana Democrats: ‘Gianforte’s social agenda would hurt job growth in Montana’

Today, billionaire Greg Gianforte is returning to Butte – the site of two embarrassing episodes last year.

In February 2014, the Gianforte-funded Montana Family Foundation lost its fight against the Butte-Silver Bow non-discrimination ordinance. Three months later, Gianforte faced boycotts of his speech at Montana Tech due to his support of discriminatory legislation.

Today, Gianforte is back in Silver Bow County – this time as a possible Republican candidate for governor. While Gianforte aims to talk about recruiting talent to Montana, he has a number of questions to answer about his record of trying to enact social policies that drive away talent and businesses.

Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Nancy Keenan released the following statement to welcome Gianforte back to Butte:

“New Jersey billionaire Greg Gianforte has spent millions of dollars pushing divisive social issues that drive businesses and jobs away from Montana,” Keenan said. “He led the fight against Butte-Silver Bow’s non-discrimination ordinance and instead supported job-killing, Indiana-style discrimination laws for Montana—actions that would hurt job growth and make it harder to attract talent.  Now I guess he realizes it’s not smart to talk about those extreme values in Butte.”

THE FACTS ON GIANFORTE’S AGENDA

In 2014, Gianforte-Backed Montana Family Foundation Organized Opposition to Butte’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance. In 2014, Gianforte-backed Montana Family Foundation organized opposition to Butte-Silver Bow’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance recruiting people to voice their opposition at hearings. Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, said of the Butte ordinance: “God says homosexual acts are sinful. These type of ordinances not only codify that type of sin as acceptable but force Christians under threat of law to not just tolerate but participate in it as well.” [MFF,1/15/14; Montana Family Foundation, 4/3/14]

Gianforte is One of Montana Family Foundation’s “Largest Donors.”  From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, “According to IRS records, the Bozeman-based Gianforte Family Charitable Trust is one of the Montana Family Foundation’s largest donors, giving $280,000 in 2012.” [Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 3/17/15]

In March 2014, Montana Tech Teachers and Students Protested Gianforte as Commencement Speaker. From the Montana Standard, “Some faculty and students at Montana Tech plan an unprecedented boycott of the university’s spring commencement in protest of the ceremony’s featured speakers, a wealthy couple from Bozeman whose critics say have radical social and religious views. [Outraged Tech professors who plan to skip the ceremony say the Gianfortes’ beliefs fly in the face of the science being taught on campus.” [Montana Standard, 3/27/14]

In March 2015, Gianforte-Backed Montana Family Foundation Lobbied for “Indiana Style” Montana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In 2015, the Montana Family Foundation lobbied the legislature in support of the Montana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. According to the Daily Chronicle, “The bill would re-establish the “compelling government interest” test for legal cases regarding the free exercise of religion. That change, along with the bill’s definitions, would pave the way for overturning non-discrimination laws like the one the Bozeman City Commission adopted in 2014.” Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, said the law would protect people like John Lane, a pharmacist in Broadus who in 2008 refused to distribute oral contraceptives or emergency contraceptives. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 3/25/15; Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 3/17/15]

Gianforte Advocated to Allow Organizations to Deny Employment Based on Their Beliefs. In 2014, “Gianforte advocated for the right of religious organizations to ‘make employment decisions consistent with their faith,” while noting that such protections should not allow ‘non-expressive’ businesses to deny services to LGBT customers." [National Journal, 4/13/15]

Gianforte Argued Businesses Would Locate to Cities “That Aren’t Friendly to Homosexuals.” According to National Journal, “In one January 2014 email sent to Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss and Bozeman city council members, Gianforte wrote, ‘Homosexual advocates try to argue that businesses are leery of locating in towns that aren’t friendly to homosexuals. I believe the opposite is truer.’” [National Journal, 4/13/15]

Tech Company, SalesForce.com, Canceled Programs in Indiana After Religious Freedom Passed. According to the Indianapolis Star, “Soon after Gov. Mike Pence signed the religious freedom bill into law Thursday, Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff announced on Twitter that he would no longer send employees or customers to Indiana. ‘Today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination,’ he tweeted.” [Indy Star, 4/2/15]

Apple CEO: “America’s Business Community Recognized a Long Time Ago that Discrimination, in All of its Forms, is Bad for Business.” In a Washington Post op-ed, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, slammed religious freedom laws as bad for businesses, writing “America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement. From North Carolina to Nevada, these bills under consideration truly will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms.” [Washington Post, 3/29/15]

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