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Tim Sheehy’s personal finance disclosure shows vast wealth, array of investments

by By ARREN KIMBREL-SANNIT Montana Free Press
| November 17, 2023 7:00 AM

A new personal finance disclosure for Tim Sheehy, the current Republican front-runner in the party’s effort to topple longtime Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in 2024, shows a complex array of business holdings, properties, investments and other assets that generate millions of dollars each year for the Belgrade businessman. 

Sheehy, the CEO of Belgrade-based aerial firefighting company Bridger Aerospace, earns about $7 million a year in non-investment income, $5 million of which comes from his salary at Bridger. His total net worth, buoyed by between $16 million and $44 million in dividends from investments, is between $74 million and $200 million, which would make him one of Congress’ wealthiest members if he is elected. 

Members of Congress, senior staff, candidates for federal offices and other top officials must disclose their personal finances annually, as required by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. A candidate or lawmaker’s investment income and the value of their assets are reported in ranges, hence the width of the estimates of Sheehy’s net worth. 

Sheehy, as has been previously reported, owns luxury properties in Big Sky and Polson, a home in Bozeman, rental units, and a stake in the Little Belt Cattle Company, a ranching operation near Martinsdale he co-founded with a business partner after they purchased a series of adjoining parcels in 2020. 

His business investments range from the mildly amusing — between $1,000 and $15,000 in Roblox Corp., developer of the kid-oriented video game of the same name — to the potentially politically problematic, especially in the context of both major parties’ hawkishness toward China and Sheehy’s own mixed record on climate change. 

He has invested, for example, between $250,000 and $500,000 in the Pzena Emerging Markets Value Fund, a mutual fund that includes sizable investments in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce and technology company. He also previously held a small amount of stock in Tencent, another large Chinese corporation. 

A recent Sheehy campaign ad begins with a grainy video of Chinese President Xi Jinping riding in a parade while Sheehy narrates, “China is building a fierce military.” (Anti-China sentiment is not unique to Republicans or to Sheehy. Tester, for instance, has been a leading proponent of restricting the ownership of land in the United States by China and other so-called foreign adversaries).

Sheehy also holds between $50,000 and $100,000 in Cloverly, a self-described “sustainability as a service” company with software that allows companies to measure and offset their carbon output. In July, critics dinged Sheehy after ABC News reported that Bridger Aerospace had removed language from its website touting itself as “fighting on the front lines of climate change.” Republicans both in Montana and nationally are crusading against Environmental, Social and Governance (or ESG) investing, an investment strategy that ostensibly prioritizes protecting the climate and other not-strictly-profit-based incentives. 

The Sheehy campaign pledged in a recent press release that the candidate would put his investments into a blind trust if elected and, as required by Senate ethics rules, step down from his CEO position. 

Sheehy does not yet have a serious primary challenger, though hardline Republican Congressman Matt Rosendale is reportedly considering, if not quietly pursuing, a bid. Rosendale has attempted to paint Sheehy as out of touch and too connected to the Washington, D.C. establishment, and has touted polling numbers that show him leading Sheehy in a hypothetical matchup. 

Sheehy is the favored candidate of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is chaired by Montana’s other U.S. senator, Steve Daines. Former Montana Secretary of State and Public Service Commissioner Brad Johnson, a Republican, has also announced that he’ll run for the seat.

Tester, a farmer who is vying for a fourth term in the Senate, where he chairs the influential defense subcommittee of the chamber’s Appropriations Committee, is no pauper, though his financial operation is decidedly simpler than Sheehy’s. 

In 2022, he reported less than $4,000 in annual non-investment income from his farm in Big Sandy and from the state’s public employee retirement system (Tester, a former Montana state legislator, is eligible for a state pension). His farmland is valued between $1 million and $5 million, and he owns between $50,000 and $100,000 worth of stock in American Electric Power, an investment-owned utility company.