Committee raised $315K for Bullock inaugural; remaining $52K to go to charities

HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock’s Inaugural Ball Committee raised about $315,000 in donations and ticket sales, spent $263,000 on two gala events in February and will donate the $52,000 left over to Montana charities, according to a report released this week.

Melanie Brock, executive director of the ball committee, prepared the report.

She said the committee began work in mid-November, shortly after Bullock was elected governor, to plan for two events. The Inaugural Ball was held Feb. 9 at the Exhibit Hall at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds, preceded by a reception for sponsors. The next day, the Governor’s Children’s Inaugural Ball took place in the same room.

Nearly 3,000 people attended the Saturday night ball. Tickets were $25 apiece.

More than 900 children and their parents attended the children’s ball the next day at no charge. People were asked to donate a nonperishable food item at the door. The effort collected more than 900 pounds of food for the Montana Food Bank Network.

Five bands played during the weekend, and production crews from around the state worked on the project.

A total of $315,400 was raised to pay for the balls, with $275,275 coming from sponsors and $40,125 from ticket sales.

Expenses totaled $262,932, the report said.

It was the first Montana governor’s inaugural ball since the 2005 event honoring Gov. Brian Schweitzer. No ball was held in 2009, after Schweitzer’s re-election, because of the national recession.

Brock said she worked with a committee of volunteers to raise the sponsorship contributions to keep the costs of attending the ball low and to allow for the Children’s Ball to be free for Montana families. The volunteers included Aidan Myhre and Tim Warner of Helena and Barbara Skelton of Billings.

“The fundraising took place completely independent from the governor, the governor’s office and official staff,” Brock said.

Major sponsors included corporations, including a number of energy-related and utility businesses, and individuals.


The largest contribution of $25,000 came from Phillips 66, of Bartlesville, Okla., which has an oil refinery in Billings,

Donating $10,000 each were: Plum Creek Administrative Corp. Inc., Columbia Falls; NorthWestern Energy, Butte; CCA of Tennessee LLC, the Nashville company that owns a private prison in Shelby; PPL Montana LLC, Allentown, Pa.; Washington Corps., Missoula; MHA , formerly the Montana Hospital Association, Helena; TransCanada, Calgary, Alberta, which is seeking to build the Keystone XL Pipeline; Cloud Peak Energy Resources LLC., Gillette, Wyo., which owns the Spring Creek coal mine near Decker; Deloitte Consulting, Camp Hill, Pa.; Nix, Patterson & Roach LLC, a law firm from Daingerfield, Texas; and MDU Resources, Bismarck, N.D.

Making the largest individual donations were: Fred Kellogg and Amy Smith, Kalispell, $5,000; Thomas Boland, Florence, $2,500; Paul Gatzemeier and Barbara Skelton, Billings, $2,500; Shane and Gina Colton, Billings, $2,500; and Beth Alter Esq., New York, N.Y., $2,500.

Brock said the $52,468 left over will be donated this week to these Montana charities: Montana History Foundation, Montana Food Bank Network for its backpack program, the Holter Museum in Helena for its children’s art program sponsorships, the Ready to Read Program, Montana Special Olympics, the Sister Nation Empowerment Program, Center for Children and Families in Billings, Montana Hope Project, the Joe Mazurek Memorial and Emma’s House in Hamilton.

In 2005, Schweitzer’s Inaugural Ball Committee raised about $365,000 in donations and ticket sales and spent nearly $270,000.

Of the nearly $97,000 left over, Schweitzer donated $50,000 to the state for repairs and maintenance of the governor’s mansion and the governor’s office. The remaining $47,000 went into Schweitzer’s constituency services fund, which paid for his political-related travel and other costs.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Charles S. Johnson can be reached at (406) 447-4066 or by email at

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