GOP candidate wins special election after being charged with assaulting reporter

UPDATE 2 — 6/14, 4:26 p.m. EDT: A Montana judge gave congressman-elect Greg Gianforte to a light sentence of 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management help on Monday for assaulting a reporter in May.

Judge Rick West of Gallatin County, Montana, had originally sentenced Gianforte to a jail term of four days, but later reversed course, and deferred the former tech company executive’s sentence for six months, after which time charges may be dismissed.

 

UPDATE — 6/10, 5:14 p.m. EDT: Montana’s victorious House GOP candidate, Greg Gianforte, will plead either no contest or guilty Monday to misdemeanor assault after getting into an altercation with a reporter last month prior to the state’s special election, according to a Gallatin County attorney.

Gianforte, who was caught on audio slamming Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs to the ground in the candidate’s office on May 24, has apologized for the incident and agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In exchange for the donation, Jacobs has agreed not to being a civil lawsuit against Montana’s congressman-elect.

 

House Republican candidate Greg Gianforte has been declared the winner in Montana’s special election only a day after being charged with assaulting a reporter. The local police charged Gianforte with misdemeanor assault after he allegedly body slammed a news reporter before the start of a campaign event on Wednesday evening.

The reporter, Ben Jacobs of UK-based The Guardian, was in a side room with several other reporters when the alleged incident took place. Jacobs, who was audio recording his interview with the candidate [listen below], attempted to ask Gianforte about his views on the House GOP’s healthcare bill in light of the uninsured numbers the CBO is projecting in its newly released report.

Gianforte at first referred Jacobs to his spokesman, but then started yelling at Jacobs.

“I’m sick and tired of you guys!” Gianforte said. “The last time you came here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here. Get the hell out of here.”

A scuffle is heard on the audio, and then Jacobs is heard saying: “You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.”

Although the audio backs up his version of events, the Gianforte campaign released a statement describing a very different scenario. In the statement, Gianforte said Jacobs was a “liberal reporter” who behaved aggressively towards him.

Witnesses in the room, including a Fox News team, back up Jacob’s account of what occurred. Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna described what happened in a detailed account:

“…Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter,” Acuna said.

“To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies, “ she continued.

The special election was being held as Montana’s previous lone House representative, Ryan Zinke, was appointed secretary of the Interior Department by President Trump.

It is unclear how much of an effect early voting and absentee ballots had on Gianforte’s victory. Montana’s Secretary of State office said they had received calls from voters wishing to change their choice of candidate, but such an action is not allowed under state law.

 

[Washington Post] [New York Times] [Fox News] [CNN] [Reuters] [Roll Call] [Photo courtesy Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via The Week]