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Easter Sunday stories in The Montana Standard and other Lee Newspapers in Billings, Missoula, Helena and Hamilton used Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Greg Gianforte’s Family Foundation donations as a litmus test for his political motives.

One headline questioned Gianforte’s charitable giving, yet all was proper. A more accurate headline is: Should Montanans view Gianforte’s generosity as love of neighbor or suspect political beliefs? Lee Newspapers want Gianforte to explain if his personal gifts reflect how he will act as governor. Gianforte’s foundation states it supports organizations that equip others with the means to improve their lives and create lasting change.

Gianforte already said he would govern just as he ran his international technology business: find the best people with the skill levels needed, and hire them. He did not ask his employees their personal preferences; that was their private business. He rewarded all employees as to their performance. He had a very diverse workforce.

When looking at Gianforte’s gifts, Gov. Steve Bullock’s spokesperson worries about values and priorities “Greg Gianforte would bring to the governor’s office.” Then to make the point, Lee Newspapers gathers Gianforte’s donations into contrived political categories, such as groups that oppose gay marriage, seek to ban or restrict abortions, or file lawsuits to defend religious freedoms. This politically-motivated grouping mischaracterizes Gianforte’s donations, and is blatantly unfair to the organizations receiving gifts that help the poor, underserved and disadvantaged.

Democrat Gov. Bullock is Catholic. His Church opposes abortion, same-sex marriage, cloning, euthanasia/assisted suicide, and embryonic (not adult) stem cell research, while it vigorously supports religious freedom. Catholic schools offer choice. Further, Catholic Charities in the U.S., including Montana, spends $70 million annually on aid to the poor, disaster relief, and pregnancy counseling, to name a few. The Church in the U.S. spends $680 million in 100 foreign countries. Catholic social teaching is often accused of being politically incorrect.

What values does the Catholic governor bring to his office?

In the second story, Lee Newspapers again fabricates politically charged categories for Gianforte’s donations -- such as “school choice and private schools”, instead of what the foundation calls “jobs, education and the family.” Lee also invents a category called “Christian ministry, bible colleges or faith-based services” instead of the foundation’s “valuing and protecting the vulnerable” category. Fabrications, like these, deceive.

-- Cort Freeman, Butte

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