U.S. Senate candidate Sheehy resigns as Bridger Aerospace CEO

Tim Sheehy
Posted at 12:46 PM, Jul 01, 2024

HELENA — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tim Sheehy is stepping down as CEO of the company he founded.

Bridger Aerospace issued a news release Monday morning, announcing Sheehy was resigning as CEO and from the company’s board of directors.

Bridger is an aerial firefighting company based in Belgrade. Sheehy started it in 2014, after his active-duty career in the Navy ended.

“The leadership team at Bridger Aerospace, supported by our experienced board, will continue to excel at its core mission; saving lives and protecting property,” Sheehy said in the release. “This exceptional team deserves a fully focused CEO during its busy fire season. Now that I have won the primary election, it is appropriate for me to allow our leadership team to focus on their duties. I look forward to watching their continued success.”

Sheehy said he had remained an active pilot for Bridger while serving as CEO.

“Tim has worked tirelessly since he founded Bridger to build an industry leading management team, including individuals with strong aviation, corporate and military backgrounds,” said executive chairman Jeffrey Kelter in the release. “As a result of this effort the Board is confident in the ability of the Company’s executive team to continue to operate our fleet of aircraft to execute the Company’s vision.”

Kelter said the company had been preparing for Sheehy’s possible departure since he announced last year that he would challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester. Bridger announced Sam Davis, who has been the company’s chief of staff, would take over as interim CEO.

“With his operating experience and long history with Bridger we expect a smooth transition and remain well positioned to achieve our growth objectives,” said Kelter.

The company said a board committee will begin a search for a new permanent CEO.

The Montana Democratic Party responded Monday to what they called an “abrupt” announcement. They said Sheehy’s decision didn’t eliminate the conflicts of interest they’ve accused him of having because of his role with Bridger.

“Last week, stock values for Bridger Aerospace were hitting all-time lows, and today Bridger announced Tim Sheehy’s resignation,” said MDP executive director Sheila Hogan in the statement. “While Sheehy has made Bridger’s success a central piece of his campaign, today’s news that he will resign – coupled with $77 million in losses and his former employees suing him – raises serious questions about Sheehy’s role. Now Sheehy’s refusal to divest and remove his financial ties to Bridger Aerospace deepens concerns as he campaigns for the position that would allow him to steer lucrative contracts to benefit his own portfolio.”

Sheehy’s campaign released their own statement to MTN, saying Bridger was a “Montana success story” and Sheehy was proud of his role in the company and the jobs it created.

“Jon Tester and his allies are using disingenuous attacks to actively try and tear down a Montana business and that should be concerning to all Montanans,” a spokesperson said. “What Tester and the Montana Democratic Party are saying is that they don’t care about this Montana business, they don’t care about its success or its mission, and they clearly don’t care about the employees because they want to see this company fail because Tim Sheehy is a Republican. Shame on Jon Tester for threatening the livelihoods of Montanans by smearing a Montana business.”

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include statements from the Montana Democratic Party and from Tim Sheehy's Senate campaign.