Newly released details bring a shakeup in the race to fill Montana's vacant congressional seat. ABC Fox Montana has learned that Republican Greg Gianforte has financial ties to two Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the U.S.
Shane Scanlon, communications director for the Gianforte Campaign, confirms that Gianforte owns close to 250 thousand dollars’ worth of shares in two index funds that are invested in the Russian economy.
We learned this Friday evening of Gianforte's investments from a report in the guardian, an online news publication.
Scanlon confirms that Gianforte owns close to 150 thousand dollars’ worth of shares in Vaneck Vectors Russia ETF and more than 92 thousand dollars in the IShares MSCF Russia ETF fund.
Both have significant holdings in companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft that are under U.S. sanctions.
The Gianforte campaign released a statement to us saying.
"Greg and Susan have a diverse portfolio of investments that's overseen and managed by a financial adviser. Greg believes in the highest form of transparency, releasing over 10 years’ worth of tax returns - going above and beyond what's required by law - and promising Montanans that he will put his assets into a blind trust if elected. Greg strongly believes his personal assets should never influence his decision-making in office."
To add some perspective, the guardian quoted Richard Nephew the former principal deputy coordinator for sanctions policy at the state department.
He told the guardian, "There is definitely a question here but my initial reaction is that this not something to freak out about."
Nephew noted that it does raise concerns from "A Russia policy perspective" as a conflict of interest because "betting on Russia's economy is problematic."
We also reached out to the Quist campaign and they released a statement to us saying, "Montana voters deserve to know why Greg Gianforte held onto his shady Russian investments after repeated Russian aggression against the United States and why he kept his Russian ties secret during his failed run for governor."