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Montana governor under fire for vacationing during flood

Yellowstone National Park Flooding
Posted at 5:36 PM, Jun 17, 2022

RED LODGE, Mont. (AP) — Montana's governor was not in Montana — or in the U.S. at all — when punishing floods hit Yellowstone National Park and communities on its fringes this week.

He was in Italy.

But Republican Greg Gianforte's office didn't tell his constituents that for days.

It wasn't until Wednesday - a mere 48 hours after the flooding occurred - that his office publically stated that he was out of the country. They said they couldn't release where he was exactly due to unspecified security concerns.

Now Gianforte is back in Montana and under fire for not hurrying home more quickly and for keeping the public in the dark as to his whereabouts.

In Gianforte's defense, his office says he was briefed regularly about the flooding.

On Friday, he toured the flood zone but didn’t talk about his absence.

This isn't the first time the 61-year-old, who was elected governor two years ago, has made national headlines.

The tech mogul made national headlines when he was charged with misdemeanor assault in 2017 for body-slamming a reporter for The Guardian. He eventually pleaded guilty, paid a fine, completed community service and anger management training, wrote an apology letter, and donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The historic rainfall Monday caused flooding washing away roads, bridges, and houses.

Yellowstone has been closed, but on Friday, park officials said they might be able to reopen some portions next week.

However, the northern portion of the park could remain closed all summer and possibly beyond.