September 24, 2023

Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and businessman recruited by the national GOP to run against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in Montana.
Tim Sheehy For Montana

  • GOP Senate candidate Tim Sheehy’s website touts his support for Montana agriculture.
  • But the photo he originally used wasn’t taken in Montana — it was taken in Kentucky.
  • After Insider reached out to Sheehy’s campaign, the photo — and two others — were quickly replaced.

Republican Tim Sheehy has based his Senate campaign in Montana in part on his support for the state’s agricultural sector.

On the “Issues” section of his campaign website, he argues that he knows “firsthand the challenges we face with the over consolidation of corporate agriculture,” pointing to his co-founding of a cattle company to showcase his “direct participation and investment in production agriculture here in Montana.”

But the photo he originally used to illustrate that “direct participation” — a sunny, green pasture filled with grazing cattle — was actually taken by a photographer hundreds of miles away, in Kentucky.

The original portion of Sheehy’s website touting his support for Montana agriculture — alongside a photo taken in Kentucky.
Screenshot/Tim Sheehy for Montana

An original copy of the photo can be found on the Shutterstock page of Patrick Jennings, a Kentucky-based photographer. A similar photo on the website indicates that the picture used by Sheehy was taken in a field in Kentucky.

That wasn’t the only example of out-of-state photography on Sheehy’s website.

The photo that Sheehy originally used to illustrate his support for border security was taken in Russia, while a photo in his “Forest Management” section originates from Ukraine.

Reached for comment, Sheehy campaign spokeswoman Katie Martin blamed their campaign’s digital vendor, Push Digital, for the “unfortunate error.”

“The website has been updated accordingly,” Martin added.

The agriculture portion now includes a Shutterstock image labeled “Round bales found in Livingston Montana,” while the forestry section now has a photo taken in Custer Gallatin National Forest and the border security section features a commonly-used stock image of the southern border wall that’s been appeared in several articles.

Sheehy’s original “Border Security” section, which includes a photo taken in Russia.
Screenshot/Tim Sheehy for Montana

It’s not all that uncommon for political campaigns to use stock imagery that contradicts the message they’re seeking to get across.

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. recently used a Russian stock photo in a tweet hawking his campaign merchandise, while House Republicans’ “Commitment to America” campaign roll-out last year also included Russian and Ukrainian stock imagery.

Often, it’s simply cheap and expedient to use stock images, rather than original photos taken solely for a campaign. 

Sheehy’s original “Forest Management” section, which includes a photo taken in Russia.
Screenshot/Tim Sheehy for Montana

But in a state like Montana — where suspicion towards so-called “out of staters” runs high and where Democrats have already sought to portray Sheehy, who moved to the state in 2014, as a “transplant” — even small choices like these are likely to draw scrutiny.

Montana’s US Senate election is certain to be one of the most closely-watched in the nation next year; Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is seeking re-election in a state that former President Donald Trump carried by double-digits in 2020, and partisan control of the entire Senate hangs in the balance.

National Republicans recruited Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and businessman, to run against Tester. Several Republican senators have already backed Sheehy’s campaign, hoping to head off a primary challenge from Rep. Matt Rosendale, a Republican who lost to Tester in 2018.



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