May 24, 2016

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Latest News, Montana

NO TRESPASSING: Gianforte’s Public Access Scandal Now Damaging Campaign

NO TRESPASSING: Gianforte’s Public Access Scandal Now Damaging Campaign 

New DGA video highlights backlash to Gianforte’s attempt to block river access near his property 

MT political analyst: ‘This is something that could spiral out of control’ 

Today, the Democratic Governors Association released a new video highlighting Greg Gianforte’s big problem in Big Sky Country.

The video features how Gianforte’s effort to block access to public land has provoked a growing backlash in Montana which is threatening the GOP gubernatorial candidate’s campaign.

Watch the video here.

According to Lee Newspapers, Gianforte – a New Jersey multi-millionaire – bought up big chunks of land outside Bozeman, then promptly sued the state to block access to fishing grounds enjoyed by Montana anglers and recreationalists for decades. Gianforte’s lawsuit sought to eliminate an easement that protected public access to the East Gallatin River along Gianforte’s property. 

In Montana, waters run deep over public access issues and Gianforte’s attempt to restrict access to state land could cause major problems on the campaign trail. 

University of Montana Political Scientist Rob Saldin explains: 

Public access has something like sacred status in Montana. For many Montanans, being able to access public land and water is an absolutely essential part of what makes Montana special,” Saldin told Montana Public Radio. 

“People don’t like it when you mess with that. In this particular case, when you have a way of perceiving this as a rich guy dropping bags of money down to buy a trophy house on a multi-acre estate, then put up fences and kick people out their favorite fishing hole, that is potentially damaging.” 

“Gianforte campaign recognizes the potential damage that this lawsuit story poses, and is throwing out every shiny object it has to try to do something to shift attention away from this thing … He knows the optics on this are bad. This is something that could spiral out of control for him,” Saldin said

Gianforte has already come under fire for proposing a tax plan that would send nearly 60% of tax benefits to households in Montana’s top 10%. Now, the growing controversy over his public access lawsuit re-enforces to voters that Gianforte is out for himself, instead of the rest of Montana. 

“Over the last week, it’s become clear that Greg Gianforte has no good answer to why he tried to block Montanans from fishing near his property,” said DGA Communications Director Jared Leopold. “For decades, Montanans have fought against wealthy out-of-state transplants like Gianforte who buy up land and seek to restrict access to the state’s iconic lands and streams. Greg Gianforte’s record of opposing public access is already causing serious damage to his campaign to become governor.”

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