Greg Gianforte’s campaign for U.S. House raised $1.6 million through March, according to federal campaign reports.
Most notably, Gianforte, a Republican, hasn’t put any of his own money in the race. This comes after spending $6 million of his own money in an unsuccessful campaign for Montana governor in 2016. Democrats had accused the Bozeman high-tech entrepreneur of “buying a U.S. House Seat.”
Gianforte, along with Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks, is campaigning to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as Montana's lone congressman. Zinke resigned last month. Absentee ballots will be mailed April 28. The last day to vote is Thursday, May 25.
Itemized contributions from individual donors — the kind that name donors and show where they live — revealed 782 Montanans donating $1.39 million to Gianforte’s campaign, with another $170,000 coming from non-itemized donations.
Itemized donations are a popular political talking point because they prove how much homegrown support a candidate has. Money from out-of-state plays negatively with voters.
Tuesday, Quist’s campaign said individual donors numbered 22,333 and were mostly Montanans. Those numbers weren’t reflected in federal election records because the majority of Quist’s donations were non-itemized. Nearly two-thirds of Quist’s $903,975 donations came from ActBlue, a political action committee that bundles donations for candidates. Federal Election Commission records don’t show who was behind donations collected by ActBlue.
Donors who contributed $50 or more directly to the Quist campaign were identified. There were 626 Montana donations identified in Quist’s Tuesday report.
“Our itemized donations were $1.39 million and the other guy, two-thirds of his weren’t disclosed,” said Brock Lowrance, campaign manager for Greg for Montana. “Three-quarters of our donors are Montanans.”
Political action committees, namely leadership PACs created by Republicans currently serving in Congress, contributed $61,999 to the Gianforte campaign. Gianforte had previously committed to not accepting money from PACs tied to corporate interests, but did say he would accept money from leadership PACs and local political parties.
Records show the Republican returned $1,000 from the Association of Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchisees PAC.