Governor Returns to Montana Amid Criticism From Democrats
Governor Greg Gianforte is in southeastern Montana on Friday meeting with state, local, and federal officials after the devastating flooding that occurred in the area this week.
The Governor’s office issued the following statement on Friday morning.
‘With the governor back in the state and security concerns no longer an issue, we are providing information as promised. The governor departed early Saturday morning to Italy with his wife for a long-planned personal, private trip. When severe flooding struck, the governor delegated his authority to respond to the disaster to Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras with whom he worked closely over the last four days to take swift, decisive action. Grateful to be back in Montana, the governor looks forward to being on the ground in Gardiner this morning to survey the damage and meet with residents and local officials about recovering and rebuilding.’
While the governor was away and the flooding disaster developed, the Montana Democratic Party was critical of the lack of communication regarding his absence.
Chair of the Montana Democratic Party Robyn Driscoll commented.
“Nobody is begrudging a governor who needs a vacation,” said Driscoll. “I think everybody absolutely deserves time off, especially with a job that's as stressful as governing, and so that's really not what we're criticizing. We're criticizing the secrecy and the misleading statements that were coming from his office. That's what I see as the most troubling and just really deeply insulting.”
Driscoll explained the Democratic Party’s take on the lack of communication from the Governor’s office.
“He purposefully misled Montanans about the fact that he wasn't in the country,” she said. “He obscured the fact that he had asked his lieutenant governor to step in as acting Governor. The responsible thing to do would have been just as soon as the flooding started to tell the public that he was out of the country but returning as soon as possible.”
Driscoll praised the Republican representatives who have responded to the flooding disaster.
“This is a tragedy,” she said. “It's not time for politics. We applaud Senator Daines and Representative Rosendale for working with Senator Tester to secure emergency funding. Our congressional delegation put politics aside and worked together and we truly do applaud that,”
As the governor’s office referenced in its statement on Friday, there were security concerns regarding the information about his vacation.