Greg Gianforte

Greg Gianforte, founder RightNow Technologies

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The Montana Democratic Party has apologized to a Bozeman businessman for incorrect statements it made about Republican Congressman Steve Daines during last year’s election.

In a letter to former RightNow Technologies CEO Greg Gianforte, dated Feb. 15, Montana Democratic Party Chairman Jim Elliott admitted two statements in a series of political mailers sent last year attacking Daines were false. Daines is a former RightNow vice president.

One statement claimed that employees at RightNow were laid off in order to outsource Montana jobs to India.

“We now believe this is not correct,” Elliott wrote.

Democrats also claimed in the mailers that money from government contracts was used to ship jobs overseas.

“We also now believe that is not correct,” Elliott wrote. “We regret any inconvenience this may have caused you.”

The statements were the center of a lawsuit Gianforte filed against the Montana Democratic Party in October, claiming the organization libeled Daines.

After Gianforte received the apology, Gallatin County District Court Judge Mike Salvagni dismissed the lawsuit at Gianforte’s request.

Daines worked for RightNow for 12 years, serving in positions such as vice president of customer services, vice president of North American sales and vice president of Asia-Pacific.

The suit named the Montana Democratic Party, party treasurer James Wheeler and 10 unnamed people as defendants.

Gianforte said in the suit that the $15 million received in government contracts, which was referred to in the mailers, came after a competitive bidding process and was less than 10 percent of RightNow’s total revenue that year. And the money was not used to ship jobs overseas or layoff Montana employees to outsource jobs, the suit said.

“This case was about whether the truth matters in Montana, or whether people should be allowed to simply make things up to benefit themselves at the expense of hurting others,” Gianforte said Friday in a prepared statement sent to the, Chronicle.

“When people publicly say things about others without any reason for believing their statements to be true, they deserve to be held accountable,” he added.

Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.

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