No shortage of multimillionaires among MT’s 2018 congressional candidates

Posted at 6:05 PM, Feb 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-15 20:05:08-05

Montana may have the wealthiest member in all of Congress – Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte – but he’s far from being the only multimillionaire running for federal office this year in Montana.

Three of the four Republicans running in the U.S. Senate race and one of the five Democrats vying to take on Gianforte are in that category as well, according to financial-disclosure documents filed with the House and Senate.

In fact, those with relatively modest means may be in the minority, among the dozen or so Montana candidates running for the U.S. House or U.S. Senate in 2018.

Gianforte’s most recent filings list financial holdings worth at least $200 million, in property, various businesses and multiple stocks, bonds and mutual funds in a trust managed by investment advisers. He and his wife, Susan, also have a charitable trust with assets of about $150 million. The trust donates several millions dollars each year to various causes.

Some reports have tabbed Gianforte as the wealthiest of the 535 people in both the House and Senate, based on disclosure-report filings.

Before Gianforte won election last May 25, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., had been considered the wealthiest member of Congress, worth about $250 million.

Gianforte made most of his money through RightNow Technologies, the software-development firm he co-founded with his wife, Susan, in Bozeman in the early 1990s. Oracle Corp. bought RightNow in 2012 for $1.8 billion.

Below is a look at the personal assets of the other candidates, as revealed in their disclosure forms. The forms require candidates to list the value of their holdings only within a range, rather than precisely.

U.S. SENATE candidates

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.: Tester, a farmer from Big Sandy, lists assets worth $1.6 million to $6.2 million – although most of that value is Tester’s farmland. He has a few investments and bank accounts worth anywhere from $70,000 to $220,000.

Republican Matt Rosendale: The state auditor and real-estate manager from Glendive reported assets valued from $7 million to $32 million, including MBA Consultants, which is his property-development company. His campaign said MBA manages the property he owns, including his ranch near Glendive.

Republican Russell Fagg: The former state district judge from Billings listed family assets worth between $6 million and $17 million, including bank accounts, bonds, multiple stocks and mutual funds, commercial real estate and a personal airplane. His form also listed the Granite Tower, an office complex in Billings, valued at $5 million to $25 million – but Fagg said he would have an interest in the building only when he inherits it from his father. He’s put $25,000 of his money into his campaign.

Republican Troy Downing: The Big Sky businessman listed assets valued between $3.5 million and $7.5 million, including real estate, vineyards and an insurance company in California, self-storage units around the country and a personal airplane. He also has an undeveloped lot in the exclusive Yellowstone Club at Big Sky, valued by the state Revenue Department at about $2 million. Downing has put $650,000 of his own money into his campaign.

Republican Al Olszewski, an orthopedic surgeon and state senator from Kalispell, has not filed a personal-disclosure form. He’s put $100,000 of his own money into his campaign.

U.S. House candidates (in addition to Gianforte)

Democrat John Heenan: An attorney from Billings, Heenan listed assets valued between $3.3 million and $11.4 million, including his law partnership, investment funds, college accounts for his children, commercial rental property in Billings and a local restaurant. Heenan has won some large civil judgments while representing homeowners suing banks. He has put $200,000 of his own money into his campaign.

Democrat Jared Pettinato: An attorney from Bozeman, Pettinato reported assets worth $760,000 to $1.6 million. Most of the value of his assets is in his home and a rental property in Bozeman. He’s put $10,000 of personal funds into his campaign.

Democrat Grant Kier: A former land-trust director from Missoula, Kier reported assets valued between $258,000 and $695,000, consisting primarily of bank accounts and retirement funds. He’s put $2,700 of his own money into the campaign.

Democrat Kathleen Williams: The former state representative from Bozeman listed assets worth between $117,000 and $407,000, including mutual funds and bank accounts.

Democrat Lynda Moss, a former state senator from Billings, is scheduled to file her disclosure form next week.