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Guest column

Open letter to the members and board members of the Montana High Tech Alliance

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Open letter to the members and board members of the Montana High Tech Alliance:

As you probably know, our president was in Missoula last week. During his speech, he celebrated the fact that your founder, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, assaulted a journalist from the Guardian for asking a question (i.e., doing his job).

I know many of you personally and don’t believe you endorse violence, but I ask you to consider what your dues-paying membership looks like from the outside, including to our children and the world-class talent that we’re trying to attract to the state.

Ultimately, I know we’re all just trying to do what’s best for our companies, our staff, our clients and Montana. I realize there are clear benefits for companies to work together towards a common goal such as improving the high-tech scene in Montana. But at some point, even with the loftiest goals, you need to draw the line between right and wrong.

I’d like to suggest that joining an organization founded by someone convicted of a violent act against another human be that line. Or, if we’re past that, maybe remaining quiet as our president celebrates your founder’s violence be that line. I don’t know. But if you’re sincere about truly attracting the best and the brightest from around the world and making Montana an incredible place to start companies, you cannot have a politician who has demonstrated a disregard for the First Amendment as the public face of what we’re all working so hard to accomplish.

Our company, Submittable, didn’t join the Montana High Tech Alliance initially because it was clear Gianforte was going to leverage you for political gain. We can’t join now because of your seeming endorsement of violence. I assume others haven’t because MHTA is a political organization by proxy to your founder. If you’d like to start a sincerely non-partisan organization, I think we all know it would take very little effort. I’d be happy to work with any of you towards a common goal of making our great state the best place in the world to start and run a high-tech business.

Thank you for any time and consideration you give this.

Michael FitzGerald of Missoula is the CEO and one of the founders of Submittable.

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