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May 18, 2016

Mont. Lawmakers Question Naming Gift From Candidate for Governor

An $8 million naming gift from a gubernatorial candidate to Montana State University has prompted a legislative response from lawmakers who contend the donor is using the college for political purposes, the Great Falls Tribune reports.

“Our university system should not be put in the position of allowing charitable donations to be used as a tool in elections,” said state Sen. Tom Facey, one of three Democratic legislators proposing a bill to prevent such name changes during campaign seasons. The lawmakers also want the university to wait until after the November election to rechristen its computer-science department for tech entrepreneur Greg Gianforte, who is running for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

The gift from Mr. Gianforte, announced last week, includes $5 million to create an endowment for the department, which would become the Gianforte School of Computing pending a Thursday vote by university regents. Kevin McRae, a spokesman for the university system, said its foundation has been working on the proposal for nearly two years and does not take donors’ political beliefs or activities into account.