Greg Gianforte Primary Party

Greg Gianforte mingles with friends, family and campaign workers during an election party in his back yard Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Bozeman.

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A Donald Trump campaign fundraising event last week in Gallatin County potentially exposed multiple Montana Republicans to COVID-19, including the wife and running mate of gubernatorial candidate and congressman Greg Gianforte.

Gianforte himself did not attend the event, but his wife Susan Gianforte and lieutenant governor candidate Kristen Juras did. Republican congressional candidate and state auditor Matt Rosendale and state auditor candidate Troy Downing were also there.

On July 1, Juras posted a photo on her campaign Facebook page posing less than 6 feet away and without masks with Susan, Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle. In the photo’s caption, Juras wrote that the photo was taken the night before, on June 30.

Guilfoyle tested positive for the coronavirus on July 3, as reported by the New York Times. The Times reported she was not experiencing symptoms.

A Gianforte campaign spokesperson confirmed that Juras and Susan attended the event, but that Gianforte was in Washington, D.C., because Congress was in session.

“Since learning of their potential exposure, Greg, Susan, and Kristen have adhered to recommended guidelines. Out of an abundance of caution and for the health and safety of others, they will self-quarantine, be tested for COVID-19, and suspend in-person campaign events pending test results,” the spokesperson said.

Downing’s campaign manager Sam Loveridge confirmed Downing attended the event. Loveridge said in an email that neither Downing nor his staff were ever in “close proximity” with Guilfoyle.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Troy Downing will be tested as soon as possible and will avoid personal contact and all public functions until a negative test result can be confirmed,” Loveridge said in an email.

Rosendale's campaign manager Shelby DeMars confirmed he had attended the event. DeMars said Rosendale and his wife both quarantined immediately after learning that Guilfoyle tested positive and are waiting for test results. 

Elsie Arntzen, Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction, tweeted that she had also been exposed to the illness and is quarantining and awaiting test results.

It’s unclear exactly where the event was or how many people attended. Gianforte’s spokesperson referred the Chronicle to Trump’s reelection campaign office for that information. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for more information.

According to a report by the Washington Post, the campaign fundraising event was one of several in the region and was scheduled to take place from June 30 to July 2 in Gallatin Gateway.

Lee Newspapers reported the event took place in Big Sky. 

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway were scheduled to appear as guests at both the Montana event and the immediately following “Rapid City Roundup” in Rapid City, South Dakota. Tickets to both the Rapid City and Gallatin Gateway events cost between $250 and $100,000.

Downing posted a photo of himself with Bernhardt in Big Sky to his campaign’s Facebook page on Thursday.

Gianforte is campaigning to be Montana’s governor, facing off against Democrat Mike Cooney. Rosendale is running to represent Montana in the U.S. House. Downing is running to replace Rosendale as state auditor.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.