Montana reporters spent quite a bit of energy last fall seeking answers from New Jersey multi-millionaire Greg Gianforte, to little avail. With Gianforte continuing to duck and dodge questions about his record of outsourcing jobs and hurting American workers, we’re looking back at a Billings Gazette editorial holding him accountable.
Here’s your #ThrowbackThursday:
By THE BILLINGS GAZETTE EDITORIAL BOARD
Oct 3, 2016
We have heard from Montana’s Republican candidate for governor, Greg Gianforte, a lot about jobs. In fact, that’s about all we’ve heard from his campaign.
By the campaign’s admission, it’s Gianforte’s top issue.
That’s why it surprised us that when pointed and specific questions about his job creation in Bozeman at the helm of RightNow Technologies started to arise, Gianforte went silent.
If his campaign is all about jobs, what about his record as a job creator and businessman?
When we’ve asked him other questions — about why he gave money to defeat a non-discrimination ordinance, or about funding a controversial creationism dinosaur museum, he deflected those questions, reminding us that his mission was jobs and wage growth. Yet his silence on some of those issues seems revealing.
Here’s what we mean: Gianforte has not answered questions about jobs that may have been eliminated through outsourcing when he was with RightNow, before it was bought by Oracle in 2012. Gianforte says an apology letter written by the Montana Democrats during Steve Daines’ election bid proves that Democrats’ criticism of him today has been decided.
Not so fast, Mr. Gianforte.
The apology, written by then state Democrat party chairman Jim Elliott is in reference to specific charges of outsourcing to India or using government funding to outsource jobs. It doesn’t specifically address jobs that left the company in 2001.
When asked about that, Gianforte wouldn’t comment, nor would his campaign spokesperson.
Meanwhile, a 2009 article in no less of a publication than Forbes, cited Gianforte and RightNow as “taking the concept of outsourcing to new levels.”
And this is the key point: Gianforte developed a company that helped businesses around the world eliminate jobs through technology. In other words, his success is tied directly to job elimination. While that’s not a new concept and hundreds — if not every company today — use technology to reduce labor costs, it’s important to understand that Gianforte’s success, as referenced by Forbes, is tied to reducing costs and reducing staff.
That leads us to the next part of Gianforte’s platform — wage growth. Gianforte has repeatedly hammered on his opponent, Democrat Steve Bullock for stagnant and lackluster wage growth, saying that Montana is 49th in wage growth. Besides that statistic being misleading, it appears that new reporting by Jayme Fraser reveals that Gianforte may have outsourced labor in his own company in order to reduce labor costs. In other words, he may not have wanted his own employees to experience wage growth.
Susan Carstensen, who worked as chief financial officer and vice president for RightNow for 12 years, confirmed that the company hired workers in Armenia and India for lower labor costs.
When faced with paying his employees more (read: wage growth) it appears that Gianforte shipped jobs to India and Armenia.
Speaking of wage growth, we’d also point out that Gianforte’s often-quoted wage growth statistic does not include farmers, ranchers or telecommuters. That’s a huge problem with that statistic. On Wednesday, the conservative Tax Foundation pointed out that Montana ranks No. 6 in the state business tax climate index.
Again, Gianforte and his spokesman refused to comment or answer questions on the issue of outsourcing, jobs at RightNow and wage growth there. And, they declined to speak about how his record as chief executive ties into his bid for governor.
Yet, voters have been told not to pay attention to Gianforte’s record on social issues because he’s running to create jobs.
Voters have been told not to pay attention to Gianforte’s legal spats on matters of public access and private property because he’s running to create jobs.
And yet when he’s asked about his job creation and wage growth, he remains silent.
If Greg Gianforte doesn’t really stand for jobs or wage growth, what does he stand for?