Evan Barrett’s guest column in the Independent Record May 11 attacks Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte based on his success and on false accusations.

Barrett writes that if Gianforte is elected, for the first time in Montana’s 128-year history, two (Sen. Steve Daines and Gianforte) of Montana’s three Congress members would come from the same county, same city, same industry, and same company. While not identical, Gov. Steve Bullock and Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney were just elected to the state’s highest offices, while coming from the same county, city, and industry/employer (State of Montana).

Similarly, all of Barrett’s allegations against Gianforte can be rebuked, including restricting stream access, opposing legal protection from discrimination, and being a science denier.

Barrett cites Gianforte’s record of using the courts to “restrict public access to the East Gallatin River.” This is a politically motivated exaggeration. The dispute wasn’t about the public’s access right. It was about fixing a boundary from an erroneously granted easement. Upon a site visit, Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) agreed with the Gianfortes. An agreement was successfully reached, and all along the Gianfortes have helped ensure public access to the river.

These types of access issues happen all the time. For example the Willow Creek Water Users Association, owners of Harrison Lake, is negotiating with FWP and others to settle property boundaries at the reservoir. Recent surveys show access to water at certain levels is in question, and state campground restrooms are built on association property. Does the association want to deny recreational access to the reservoir? No. It needs boundaries and access settled to have clean title for financing dam maintenance.

Barrett supposedly thinks socialist-leaning Rob Quist’s values are Montanan. As a 5th generation Montanan, let me tell you that the real value in this race is the experience and skill set that Greg Gianforte will bring in service to Montana when we elect him as our next Congressman. Greg will defend our way of life against federal overreach and work with President Trump to return prosperity not only to Montana but to America.

Quist reminds me of some of my cowboy hat-wearing uncles. They can talk a good line of bull and they’ll say whatever it takes to get what they want. Like Quist, they’d be more at home joining the party with the swamp creatures in Washington D.C. than they’d be fighting to pull the plug.

Montana deserves a Congressman who’ll look us in the eye and tell us the truth. Greg Gianforte is that man; Quist is not. Like my uncles, he’ll be dishonest whenever it serves his personal interest. Quist was once accused of fraud and deceit by a fellow band mate in a lawsuit over royalties. And, let’s not overlook the constantly growing list of his financial misrepresentations, the latest of which were underpaying property taxes on rental property for years and under-reporting his income by over $50,000. Now get this. Last year, Quist’s income was in the top 5 percent of wage earners nationwide; yet, he had defaulted on a $10,000 Wells Fargo loan.

Many have moved to Montana for what they consider a better life and a chance at opportunity. Just like Rob Quist moved to explore opportunities in both New York City and Nashville. It didn’t work out for him so he returned home. It did work out for Greg, so he stayed and made Montana home. With his wife, he raised four children in Montana and he’s hardly unaware of daily challenges that face Montanans; he lived them and overcame them. Gianforte is a successful Montanan who calls Big Sky home.

Suzzann Nordwick, of Butte, is the current V.P. of the Montana Federation of Republican Women, finance chair of the Butte-Sliver Bow Republican Central Committee, and past Republican candidate for State Senate District 39.

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