2020 Election

Steve Bullock, Who Called to Ban Super PACs, Linked to New Super PAC

Montana's Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, who has called for eliminating super PACs, appears to have a new outside super PAC backing his Senate run.

The Big Sky Voters PAC—a Montana-based super PAC—was created April 23 and looks positioned to boost Bullock's Senate bid against incumbent Republican senator Steve Daines. Its treasurer previously held the same role for Bullock's similarly named Big Sky Values leadership PAC.

The super PAC can collect unlimited sums from donors and could provide pivotal outside assistance in a race that will help determine which party controls the Senate following the November elections. If the new super PAC does, in fact, back Bullock, it would run counter to the promises the governor made during his stint as a presidential candidate. Bullock's "One Big Idea" for his presidential platform last year was campaign finance reform. He used the issue to criticize his Democratic rivals and their use of super PACs.

Holly Giarraputo, owner of the Montana-based Campaign Compliance Inc., filed the super PAC's statement of organization to the Federal Election Commission and is listed as its treasurer. Her company's website also listed Bullock's gubernatorial campaign as one of its clients, but the affiliation was removed from the site following a Washington Free Beacon inquiry.

"Big Sky Voters PAC … was created to do work in Federal Races in Montana," Giarraputo told the Free Beacon. "It is not affiliated with Governor Bullock or anyone on his team. My firm stopped doing compliance for Big Sky Values PAC in August of 2019. Given that the slogan for Montana is The Big Sky State, it is frequently used in naming by both progressives and conservatives."

When asked if the super PAC would be used to aid Bullock's candidacy, Giarraputo said "decisions regarding how funds will be spent have not yet been made." Since 2017, Bullock's leadership PAC paid Giarraputo's company $52,290, with a payment going to her group as recently as March. The firm also collected nearly $50,000 from Bullock's gubernatorial campaign and was reimbursed for software from Bullock's failed presidential committee.

Bullock promised to make "the toxic influence of money in politics" a national priority if elected president. The plan posted on his campaign website included a call "to ban Super PACs from American elections."

Bullock attacked Joe Biden over his candidacy benefiting from an outside super PAC.

"Joe Biden's senior allies just launched a SuperPAC to spend MILLIONS on his behalf," Bullock wrote in a November 13 Facebook post that was promoted by his campaign. "We're disappointed—Democrats should stand for getting Big Money OUT of our elections, not opening the floodgates. That's why Governor Bullock refuses money from corporate PACs."

Bullock criticized Biden in a second Facebook ad, writing, "Democrats need to focus on getting Big Money OUT of our elections—regardless of how it impacts their campaign."

Last month, Bullock received help from a liberal dark money group despite spending years deriding the influence of hidden money in politics. Protect Our Care, a Washington, D.C.-based group housed at Arabella Advisors, one of the nation's largest Democratic dark money networks, has poured six-figures into ads attacking Sen. Daines.

Bullock's campaign did not respond to inquiries on the super PAC.