Montana Gov. Gianforte was vacationing in Italy as state flooded
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte's office said that he returned to the state on Friday and was on "a long-planned personal, private trip" to Italy while the state was experiencing historic flooding, according to NBC.
Why it matters: Until Friday, Gianforte's office would not disclose where the governor was despite the flooding for undisclosed security concerns.
- Many Montanans only became aware of Gianforte's absence from the state on Wednesday, when the state's request to President Biden for disaster release bore Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras' signature, “on behalf of Governor Greg Gianforte," according to NBC News.
What they're saying: "The governor departed early Saturday morning to Italy with his wife for a long-planned personal, private trip," his office said in a statement obtained by NBC Montana on Friday.
- "When severe flooding struck, the governor delegated his authority to respond to the disaster to Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras with whom he worked closely over the last four days to take swift, decisive action," it added.
- "Grateful to be back in Montana, the governor looks forward to being on the ground in Gardiner this morning to survey damage and meet with residents and local officials about recovering and rebuilding."
The big picture: Significant flooding, caused by driven by "unprecedented" rainfall and snowmelt in parts of the state, started last Friday and lasted until this Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
- The flooding impacted Montana towns like Red Lodge, Billings and Livingston and significant damage in parts of Yellowstone National Park.