The word "integrity" is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles." Integrity is in many ways a value, one that defines the character of a person. With that in mind, I have been reflecting on a person who could very well become our next governor, Greg Gianforte.
Gianforte is perhaps best remembered for slamming a reporter to the ground just prior to Election Day in 2017. During his short stint in Congress, the man who made $184 million over the past 10 years has amassed a lifetime voting record on the environment of just 5%, according to the League of Conservation Voters.
During his tenure he has voted against protections for marine mammals. He supported drilling Chaco Canyon in New Mexico for oil and gas. He voted against protecting the Grand Canyon from toxic chemicals. Gianforte has voted against protections for critically endangered right whales in the Atlantic, and voted to allow more logging in America’s vital rainforest, the Tongass.
He has voted against any sane legislation that protects us from climate change. He also voted against legislation designed to help stop the killing of sharks for shark fin soup. He supports drilling in the Atlantic for oil and gas and supports the Pebble Mine in Alaska that threatens one of our most important sockeye salmon grounds and more than 15,000 fishing jobs in exchange for a mine that will employ 750 at best and will leave a toxic legacy forever.
He has strongly supported more border walls despite the impacts to wildlife. This man decided it would be “great fun” to join Senator Daines and Donald Trump Jr. several years ago to shoot prairie dogs in the early spring. As Dave Pauli from the Humane Society of the U.S. put it, “Donald Trump Jr is visiting Montana to fundraise for House candidate Gianforte ... and they and Montana Senator Steve Daines are going out in Montana’s splendor to do what Trump Jr really ‘wants badly to do’. They are going to shoot pregnant and lactating prairie dogs for FUN.”
Gianforte is a proud trapper. Since running for office, Gianforte has made a staple of giving to the Montana Trappers Association. To date, they have enjoyed $10,000 in donations, and in return, endorsed Gianforte. This group that remains bent on killing wolves, beavers, bobcats and any other animal that happens into their snares, leg hold and conibear traps, is a group Gianforte supports and respects.
How ironic, given his strong Christian beliefs and support for religious institutions in Montana and abroad. It appears, in Gianforte’s bible, animals must clearly be the dominion of humans. In this perverse logic, causing indiscriminate pain, suffering and death of animals for pleasure is somehow sanctified by God.
Gianforte, who has been a bootlicker for President Trump and in many ways seems to share his ideological thinking, could become our next governor. So the question remains, where is the integrity? Where is there a sense of moral principles beyond the notion that somehow, the creation of jobs, no matter how much harm to the environment or to wildlife, is a principled position. Gianforte is driven by money and power, used to getting his way.
What must be remembered is that a strong economy can come with strong environmental safeguards. It means respecting nature, not demonizing it.
In the 21st century, integrity means not upholding the antiquated practice of trapping, which today is simply the torture of living creatures for the hell of it. Integrity is an important ideal; it is something we need more than ever in our elected officials. It’s something you will not find in Greg Gianforte.
Before moving to Montana, Stephen Capra reated, managed and directed campaigns that led to the creation of two national monuments — Rio Grande del Norte and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks. He has educated elected officials in Washington for more than 25 years on conservation issues and has testified before Congress.
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