Montana GOP Candidate Took The 'Government Fiat' Money That He Campaigns Against

Tim Sheehy, the Montana businessman who is vying to unseat Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, received a $210,000 grant from Democrats’ American Rescue Plan — a federal COVID-19 relief package that Sheehy has repeatedly condemned on the campaign trail.

Sheehy is the founder of Bridger Aerospace, a Bozeman-based aerial firefighting company that relies almost entirely on federal contracts. In March 2022, Bridger was awarded $210,000 from the American Rescue Plan’s Workforce Training Grant Program, which provides funding to businesses to train employees.

The grant, part of $1.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding allocated to Montana, has not been previously reported.

Since launching his Senate bid in June, Sheehy has repeatedly decried what he views as wasteful spending by the Biden administration, including the $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package.

In an interview with Montana radio station KGVO shortly after announcing his campaign, Sheehy said COVID taught his state that the federal government “is not the solution to our problems.”

“It’s not the solution to educating our children. It’s not the solution to our health care. It’s not the solution to our economy,” he said. “Because when the government pumps trillions of dollars into the economy, we get inflation, which has had an extremely targeted impact on rural states like Montana.’”

In an interview with Breitbart News in July, Sheehy slammed Biden’s economic agenda, dubbed “Bidenomics,” which the American Rescue Plan is part of.

“Luckily, Bidenomics rhymes with bad economics — ‘Badenomics,’ I guess we can call it,” he said. “If we’re going to pump trillions of dollars of government fiat money into the economy, everyone said, ‘Hey, there’s going to be massive inflation on the back end of this. No, there won’t. It’ll be transitory, just a few weeks of it.’ No, it’s going to be a fundamental shift in our interest rate basis, because when you literally pump trillions of dollars of essentially artificial currency into our economy, inflation will follow. And sure enough, it did, because it’s pretty basic math when it comes down to that kind of an economic seesaw model.”

Sheehy went on to declare that Democratic policies during the pandemic “made it crystal clear what the Democrats want in their utopia, in their perfect world, when they had complete control with their emergency powers we saw what they wanted.” He then aired a long list of right-wing, culture war grievances.

Luckily, Bidenomics rhymes with bad economics — ‘Badenomics,’ I guess we can call it.Tim Sheehy

Sheehy’s campaign did not address HuffPost’s specific questions about the ARP money, instead providing a statement full of deflection.

“Montana job creator and decorated combat veteran Tim Sheehy knows that Democrats in Washington like Joe Biden and Jon Tester are bankrupting our children’s future with their out-of-control spending,” a campaign spokesperson said in an email. “While we know the Huffington Post would never ask Jon Tester why he voted for the American Rescue Plan - which didn’t create the 4 million jobs promised by the Biden administration and saddled our country with record high inflation and debt - when Tim Sheehy is in the U.S. Senate, he will be proud to rein in government spending and find areas throughout our bloated bureaucratic budget to slash.”

(This publication is no longer called The Huffington Post. Its name changed to HuffPost as part of a rebrand in 2017.)

It is unclear exactly how the money for Bridger is to be used. The contract simply states that the funding is for “new job training activities.” A Montana dashboard for American Rescue Plan funds notes that the $210,000 has been awarded but not yet paid to Bridger Aerospace.

That Sheehy is benefitting from federal aid that he now argues is driving inflation is just the latest example of him and his company double-dipping on partisan issues.

As HuffPost previously reported, Bridger has repeatedly promoted itself as a leader in the fight against climate change and planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, securing tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts along the way. Meanwhile, Sheehy has toed the Republican party line on climate, railing against the so-called “climate cult,” “radical environmentalists” and the “disastrous socialist Green New Deal.”

He also consistently slams the federal government, his company’s biggest client. As HuffPost reported, Bridger reported revenue of more than $46 million last year — 96% of which came from federal contracts. That same year, Sheehy earned nearly $5 million in salary and bonuses as the company’s CEO, and his stock in the company is valued at more than $50 million.

In an interview with Fox Business in June, the GOP hopeful said “he’s seen the power of the free market” and that Montanans “don’t want more government in their lives, whether it’s state government or federal government.”

“They want to be left alone to live their lives,” Sheehy said. “The federal government needs to stay in its lane.” He added that government COVID-19 stimulus policies “have really impacted the bedrock of Montana and people are frustrated.”

But in Sheehy’s case, not frustrated enough to not apply for and receive stimulus money.