A political action committee formed by Gov. Steve Bullock to boost his national profile raised $464,000 last year, with donations from wealthy individuals in New York, California and other locales.
The Big Sky Values PAC, formed in July, funded Bullock’s travels to several events last year, including local Democratic Party events in other states. It also paid out money to communications and fundraising consultants.
A spokesman for the PAC told MTN News that the trips have "confirmed something (Bullock) has long believed: that Americans agree about more than they disagree, that there is much more which unites us than divides us."
Bullock, a Democrat starting the second year of his final four-year term as governor, has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2020.
He said in July that he formed the Big Sky Values PAC to help him “share Montana’s story” of the two political parties working together to accomplish goals and treating each side with respect.
Bullock hasn’t said directly what his plans may be in 2020, when his term as governor ends – only that it’s a “long, long way away,” and that he hasn’t decided.
The PAC reported spending about $194,000 during the last five months of 2017 and ended the year with a $270,000 balance.
About 84 percent of the money raised for Bullock’s PAC came from out of state, including almost half — $208,000 – from 30 individuals and families from New York and Connecticut.
Only $76,500 of the money came from Montanans, and two-thirds of that total — $50,000 – is from the Kenneally family in Butte, the owners of the Town Pump gas station-motel-casino empire.
Spending by the PAC included $75,000 on fundraising consultants, $24,000 on travel, including hotels in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Austin, Texas, and a $5,400 contribution to the re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
Bullock is traveling to Colorado next month to be the keynote speaker at a state Democratic Party dinner.
Bullock also formed a state-based political action committee called Montanans Working Together, to help out candidates in Montana. It reported raising only $13,500 last year and ended the year with just $3,600 in the bank.