Gianforte, MT GOP continue to mislead Montanans about ripping public lands from public hands
HELENA -- No matter how hard he tries to spin it, New Jersey multimillionaire Greg Gianforte will always be the guy who sued the state to eliminate a public stream access point.
And he can't whitewash his record of giving thousands of dollars to special interest groups working to transfer public lands out of the public’s hands, which aligns with the Montana GOP plan to transfer public lands out of the public’s hands.
“Greg Gianforte and the folks who control Montana’s Republican Party cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it comes to protecting Montanans’ public lands and our rich outdoor heritage,” said Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. “Montana’s Democratic legislators, along with Gov. Steve Bullock, will always fight to keep our public lands in public hands.”
In 2009, Greg Gianforte sued the state to eliminate a public access easement near his home to get to the East Gallatin River in Bozeman. He was also “actively trying to exclude” the public from the site in the midst of the suit by putting up fencing and intimidating signs, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
It’s worth noting that in addition to his frivolous lawsuit, Greg Gianforte has:
Given thousands of dollars to groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the Property and Environmental Research Center -- groups that are actively working to sell off our public lands to the highest bidder and take away Montanans’ stream access by undoing our state’s stream access laws.
While campaigning for Governor, he wouldn’t definitively say whether or not he’d support transferring management of federal lands to the state, only saying "it wasn't attainable at this time."
Despite Gianforte’s failed attempts to distinguish himself as a public lands advocate, the Montana GOP continues to uphold a platform that supports the sale or transfer of federal lands.
But Gianforte is hardly the only Republican guilty of trying to block public access:
Sen. Jennifer Fielder tried to introduce a resolution in 2015 calling for Congress to transfer some of its federal lands over to states.
Fielder is also the CEO of the American Lands Council, whose aim is transferring and selling off federal lands. In order to travel to D.C. and promote her extremist agenda, Fielder cancelled a week's worth of Senate Fish, Wildlife and Parks hearings, halting official Legislative business for a week to promote her own agenda.
Republicans such as Kenneth Holmund, Dale Mortensen and Brad Tschida all voted against a resolution in 2015 to oppose efforts to sell or transfer federal lands.