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Disclosure reports shed light on U.S. Senate candidate backgrounds

Daines has assets valued at $7m to $26m
Posted: 5:17 PM, Feb 11, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-12 11:15:35-05
Disclosure reports shed light on U.S. Senate candidate backgrounds

The wealthiest candidate in Montana’s 2020 U.S. Senate contest is the incumbent, Republican Steve Daines, whose assets are worth between $7 million and $26 million, according to financial-disclosure reports.

Daines, a former executive with software-development firm RightNow Technologies in Bozeman, made several million dollars when the company was sold to Oracle Corp. for $1.8 billion in 2012.

But two of his potential Democratic opponents are not without personal means – although their wealth, as reported on disclosure reports, doesn’t come close to that of Daines.

Rancher and energy engineer John Mues of Loma has assets valued between $1.6 million and $4.5 million. Public-health expert Cora Neumann of Bozeman lists family assets worth $200,000 to $600,000, and just sold a home in California valued between $1 million and $5 million.

A third Democratic U.S. Senate candidate – Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins – reported the least in financial assets, among the candidates.

He owns a home in Lewis and Clark County worth between $250,000 to $500,000 that he rents out – and says he has family student debt in the same range.

Montana’s U.S. Senate race has yet to create much buzz, either nationally in the state, in part because Daines is seen as a strong favorite and the Democratic challengers remain largely unknown to most voters.

Democratic voters will choose a nominee in the June 2 primary. So far, Daines is unopposed in the Republican primary.

The financial-disclosure reports, filed within the past year, provide an often-detailed look into the backgrounds and personal finances of the candidates.

Here’s what the reports revealed, on each candidate:

Daines: While working for RightNow Technologies, Daines also invested in Genesis Business Park, where RightNow had its headquarters. That property is now valued between $5 million and $23 million and, in 2018, paid rent to Daines between $490,000 and $4.2 million, the report said.

Financial-disclosure forms don’t require candidates to list the precise value of their holdings, but, rather, a range of value.

Daines also listed a variety of investment and retirement accounts valued between $1 million and $2.6 million and listed no liabilities.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Mues
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Mues

Mues: He said he was paid $263,000 last year by Equinox, an international energy firm, for his work as a principal engineer involved in “maximizing large asset valuation and strategy.”

The U.S. Navy veteran also has small ranch properties in Loma and Garrison, a condominium in Hawaii and a home south of Seattle, with a total value between $1.5 million and $3 million.

Muse, who grew up in Deer Lodge, Helena and Wolf Point, also listed various bank and investment accounts worth between $150,000 and $350,000 – but also had $400,000 to $850,000 in mortgage and student-loan debt.

Neumann-Cora.jpg
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cora Neumann

Neumann: She reported income of $460,000 for her work over the past two years as an executive with four nonprofit groups, including the First Ladies Global Initiative and Reset, which guides projects on public lands, health and leadership.

Neumann grew up in Bozeman, but has degrees in public health from Columbia University and international development from Oxford University in England, and has worked around the country and the world on various health-care and development projects.

Her family moved back to Bozeman last summer from Topanga, California, where their home sold last month. She registered to vote in Montana last year.

Her report also lists investments and retirement funds valued between $188,000 and $570,000 – and outstanding student loans between $50,000 and $100,000.

Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins
Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins

Collins: He is a child-protection specialist for the state of Montana, looking into reports of neglect or abuse and determining if intervention is needed. He earns about $48,000 a year.

Collins lives in a condominium in Helena and owns a home in the county that he rents out.

He lists some investment funds, worth less than $20,000 – but his family also has student-loan debt between $250,000 and $500,000, his report said.

A fourth Democrat in the race, Bozeman physicist Michael Knoles, has not filed a financial-disclosure report.