State Watch

Montana governor returns after overseas trip in aftermath of historic floods

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has reportedly returned to the state after days of speculation about his location as Montana endures historic floods.

Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras (R) had signed a statewide declaration of disaster as the acting governor of the state on Tuesday.

The Montana Free Press reported Wednesday that Gianforte’s office was refusing to divulge his location despite repeated requests as southern Montana, including Yellowstone National Park, faced a deluge.

His office also told The Washington Post that he left for a personal trip outside of the country with his wife before the floods began and that he would be “returning early and as quickly as possible.”

Despite not being in the state, the governor has continued to post updates on his Twitter account of the steps taken by his office in response to the severe flooding.

Photos circulating on social media show that Juras has been meeting with state and local officials on disaster response on the ground in Montana.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spokesperson Jaclyn Rothenberg shared on Twitter that FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Juras flew over the disaster struck area on Thursday.

The governor has since returned to the state on Thursday night, according to NBC Montana, amid mounting criticism over his absence.

Montana’s Democratic Party blasted Gianforte in a statement on Wednesday, accusing his office of lying about his absence and “purposefully obscuring the fact that the executive order was signed by his lieutenant governor.”

“In a moment of unprecedented disaster and economic uncertainty, Gianforte purposefully kept Montanans in the dark about where he was, and who was actually in charge,” Sheila Hogan, the executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, said. “Again, we ask, where in the world is Governor Gianforte?”

The statement also asked why the governor failed to inform the public that he had appointed Juras as acting governor in his absence.

The Hill has reached out to Gianforte’s spokesperson for comment.

The extreme flooding in Yellowstone National Park could constitute a “thousand-year event,” National Park Service officials said on a press call Tuesday evening. 

Tags flooding Greg Gianforte Greg Gianforte Montana Montana flooding Yellowstone flooding
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