MTPR

Facebook Contradicts Gianforte's Tax Claim

Apr 22, 2016

Gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte has said in recent campaign speeches that Facebook passed over Montana as a location for a data center, mainly because of the state's business equipment tax. But a spokesman for the internet giant said yesterday that the Bozeman Republican never spoke with Facebook officials.

Republican candidate for governor Greg Gianforte.
Credit Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

In a news conference this week announcing his tax-relief proposal, Gianforte said he had talked with the company about building a data center in Montana. Gianforte asserted that the "biggest barrier" for Facebook was the business equipment tax.

Gianforte's tax plan includes scrapping the tax.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone says no discussions with Gianforte took place, and the tax was not the reason the company isn't locating in Montana.

Gianforte stands by his comments, adding that he spoke with a Facebook executive last fall. Montana’s Republican Party tweeted a link to this audio of Dean Roberts, who was at the time a Facebook executive, speaking on the Voices of Montana radio program.

"The problem with Montana is the tax on capital equipment," Roberts said on Voices of Montana.

Roberts has since told the Associated Press that he was under no official capacity to comment on behalf of Facebook at the time, nor was he ever authorized to do so. He says he had no role in the company’s site-selection process.

In a statement to the AP, Facebook’s Andy Stone said the company is constantly looking for sites around the world and cited renewable energy, an educated workforce and an open, nondiscriminatory environment as criteria.