Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) has campaigned as an advocate of hunting even though he has not had a hunting license in six years—the last time he was up for re-election.
Fox News obtained a Tester campaign flier in which the Montana Democrat is wearing hunting gear and holding a gun in his hand.
Sen. Tester says in the flyer:
As we gear up for hunting season, Montanans know that hunting isn’t just a sport – it feeds our families, and it creates lifelong memories with our kids and grandkids. Montanans are lucky to have some of the best access, longest seasons and greatest hunting in the world.
“Jon knows that hunting is a way of life in Montana, and he will always protect hunters, anglers, and every Montanan’s right to be on our public lands,” another flier said.
According to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks records reviewed by Fox News, Tester has not had a hunting license in six years – since 2012, the last time he was up for re-election.
The Montana records dating back to 2002 suggest that Sen. Tester has not had a fishing or hunting license for 12 out of the last 16 years. In 2012, Tester had a conservation and fishing, antelope, and hunting access enhancement license. The agency said it had no records of Sen. Tester having a license this year.
In a comment to Fox News, Chris Meagher, Tester’s campaign spokesman, denied that the ad portrays him as someone who frequently hunts.
“Running a farm and defending Montana in the U.S. Senate doesn’t leave much time for hunting,” Meagher suggested.
Montana state auditor Matt Rosendale, Tester’s Republican challenger, portrayed the Montana Democrat as out of touch in a statement on Tuesday.
“It’s pretty disingenuous to see Jon Tester talk about the importance of hunting when he’s rarely had a hunting license,” Rosendale contended. “It’s not surprising though, Jon Tester has changed. He left behind his Montana values a long time ago.”
Meagher pivoted towards attacking Rosendale, saying that the state auditor has “spent his career turning open lands into developments and pushing to transfer Montana’s public lands” while Sen. Tester “ is always fighting for access to public lands on behalf of all Montana hunters.”
National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesman Calvin Moore called Tester a “fraud” in a statement on Tuesday. Moore said:
All this goes to show that Senator Tester is a fraud who left Montana’s way of life behind long ago for the Washington swamp. Senator Tester went to Washington, bought a million dollar home, made himself the number one recipient of lobbyist campaign cash and hoped no one would notice he only to made it home to hunt when the election came around.
In contrast to Sen. Tester the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks records reveal that Rosendale has had hunting licenses every year since 2002.
Rosendale’s advocacy for gun rights has earned him the endorsement of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) said that Rosendale is an “ardent supporter” of gun rights and received an “A” rating from the NRA on the organization’s key issues.
Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA, said of Rosendale on September 5, “As an ardent defender of the Second Amendment, you have always stood strong for the right to self-defense and our nation’s hunting and recreational shooting heritage.”
The NRA’s endorsement of Rosendale became especially significant because the organization declined to endorse either Sen. Tester or Republican Denny Rehberg in the 2012 Montana Senate race.
Rosendale released a new ad campaign ad last week in which President Donald Trump slams Sen. Jon Tester for being one of the top recipients of lobbyist cash during the 2018 election cycle.
Trump said that Tester “will never drain the swamp because he loves the swamp.”