Gianforte's slam drives home intersection of…


SAN FRANCISCO It was the body slam charge felt around the political and tech world, and it happened inMontana, where the great wealth generated from a two-decade tech boom backed a fierce campaign for U.S. Congress.

Greg Gianforte, the GOP House candidate who was cited forallegedly assaulting a reporter on election eve , funded his conservative political career with the sale of his customer relationship management company,RightNow Technologies, to Oracle for $1.5 billion in 2011.Before that, he soldsoftware company Brightwork Development to then-McAfee Associates for $10 million in 1994.


At the same time, newly politically active tech workers, hailing largely from the San Francisco Bay Area and other tech hubs, pumped money into the campaign for his Democratic opponent, musician Rob Quist. It’s just one more sign of how the riches of this sector are backing political ambitionson both sides of the aisle.

On a national scale, the election in Montana is considered a gauge ofPresident Donald Trump’sinfluence, with whom Gianforte has aligned his political views since Trump’s win. The president made a robocall on behalf of Gianforte and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, campaigned with him last month. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vt.) has stumped for Quist.


The millionaire Gianforte’santi-abortion views, his support of Focus on the Family and the conservative Heritage Foundation, and his family foundation’s contributions to the creationist institution Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, run to the polar-opposite of tech.

“It’s as much about winning seats (for Democrats) as an anti-Gianforte initiative,” says Jessica Alter, an entrepreneur who co-founded Tech for Campaigns, a San Francisco and New York nonprofitthathas helped the Quist campaignby matching it highly skilled workers in social media marketing anddata analysis. “But we obviously don’t approve of his views on abort ion and health care (he opposes the Affordable Care Act).”


Late Wednesday, a reporter for Britain’s The Guardian newspaperclaimed he was “body slammed”by Gianforte after he tried to interview the candidate, a scenario corroborated by a Fox News reporter in the same room. Gianforte denied the charges, detailing a different series of events. The local county sheriff said its investigation determined there was a probable cause to cite Gianforte for misdemeanor assault, and three Montana newspapers pulled their endorsement.

In a statement, the campaign blamedthe “aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist.” It did not return an email seeking a request for comment.


Gianforte, 56, who failed in his bid for governor last year while distancing himself from then-candidate Trump, made his money far from the great outdoors of Montana. It was in Silicon Valley that RightNow gained famebefore it was bought by Oracle. But Gianforte built the company in Bozem anwithout external help or capital. He shared his business philosophy in his book, Bootstrapping Your Business: Start and Grow a Successful Company.

“He was focused, hard-driving and assertive as any good CEO should be,” said Sabrina Horn, a communications executive who worked with Gianforte in the early 2000s.


Others who knew him in the tech industry as he grew RightNow also describe him as assertive,as well as charming. But he could also hold a grudge and manifestedflashes of anger especially if you disagreed.

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Montana GOP candidate cited after reporter alleged he was body slammed


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Close Montana race could be Republicans' latest sign of trouble

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Montana GOP candidate cited after reporter alleged he was body slammed

“He had a certain swagger,” says Keith Raffel, the former CEO of software company UpShot that wassold for $70 million to Siebel Systems in 2003. “He didn’t offer opinions but spoke with a certitude, as if stating facts.”

Esteban Kolsky, a former tech analyst, remembered him as a “charming, down-to-Earth guy,” who hosted him at his Montana estate, where they dined on bear, mountain lion and beaver the tech exec had killed. But Kolsky says the relationship soured after he criticized the software, with Gianforte yelling at him then cutting off access to the company for several years.


“He operates through intimidation,” recalled Kolsky.”The worst thing you can say to him is no or you’re wrong.”

Still, the image of the physically imposing Gianforte slamming a reporter to the ground is hard for those who know him to imagine.

“Back then he was great with reporters. He was always eager to talk to any reporter,” says Mark Coker, who handled PR for Gianforte in the 1990s.”In his new world view, it appears he considers the media the enemy.”

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Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist greets Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist greets supporters during a campaign rally with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at the University of Montana on May 20, 2017, in Missoula, Mont. Rob Quist is campaigning with Sanders ahead of a May 25 special election to fill Montana’s single congressional seat. Quist is in a tight race against republican Greg Gianforte.  Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesFullscreenGreg Gianforte is the Republican nominee for the open Greg Gianforte is the Republican nominee for the open House seat in Montana.  Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesFullscreenDemocratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist (L) Democratic Congressional candidate Rob Quist, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., greet supporters during a campaign rally on May 20, 2017, in Butte, Mont.  Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesFullscreenSupporters hold signs during a campaign rally with Supporters hold signs during a campaign rally with Democratic Congressional candidate Rob Quist and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at the University of Montana on May 20, 2017, in Missoula, Mont.  Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesFullscreenRepublican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte takes Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte takes a selfie with a young girl during a campaign meet and greet at Lions Park on May 23, 2017, in Great Falls, Mont.  Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesFullscreenDemocratic U.S. congressional candidate Rob Quist greets Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Rob Quist greets supporters during a Get Out The Vote Canvass Launch event at Labor Temple on May 22, 2017, in Great Falls, Mont.  Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesFullscreenDemocratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist looks Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist looks on during a campaign rally with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on May 21, 2017, in Bozeman, Mont.  Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesFullscreenRepublican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte (R) Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte, right, greets supporters during a campaign meet and greet at Lions Park on May 23, 2017, in Great Falls, Mont.  Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesFullscreenDemocratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist (L) Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist, left, performs a song with his daughter Halladay Quist during a gathering with supporters at Darkhorse Hall and Wine Snug on May 22, 2017, in Great Falls, Mont.  Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesFullscreenA campaign sticker for President Trump is displayed A campaign sticker for President Trump is displayed on a container of coffee during a campaign meet and greet with Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte at Lions Park on May 23, 2017, in Great Falls, Mont.  Justin Sullivan, Getty ImagesFullscreenThe three candidates, Republican Greg Gianforte, from The three candidates, Republican Greg Gianforte, from left, Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks, vying to fill Montana’s only congressional seat await the start of the only televised debate ahead of the May 25 special election, on April 29, 2017, in Great Falls, Mont.  Bobby Caina Calvan, APFullscreenLike this topic? You may also like these photo galleries:ReplayDemocratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist greets1 of 11Greg Gianforte is the Republican nominee for the open2 of 11Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist (L)3 of 11Supporters hold signs during a campaign rally with4 of 11Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte takes5 of 11Democratic U.S. congressional candidate Rob Qu ist greets6 of 11Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist looks7 of 11Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte (R)8 of 11Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate Rob Quist (L)9 of 11A campaign sticker for President Trump is displayed10 of 11The three candidates, Republican Greg Gianforte, from11 of 11AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide


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