“I’m Sick and Tired of You Guys” GOP Candidate
“I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in Montana’s special congressional election yelled at Ben Jacobs, a political reporter for the Guardian. This was followed by Gianforte allegedly ‘body slamming’ the reporter which resulted in his glasses being broken and the candidate was issued a citation and is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court between now and June 7, according to County Sheriff Brian Gootkin. The sheriff said the nature of the reporters injuries didn’t meet the statutory requirements for a felony assault charge.
A filing from the Federal Election Commission indicates Gootkin donated $250 to Gianforte’s campaign last March. Gootkin confirmed the donation, but said it had no bearing on the investigation into Wednesday night’s altercation.
Jacobs Claim is Verified by Audio and Journalists
The audio file provided by Jacobs backs up his account of the incident and so did accounts by other journalists who witnessed the incident. Jacobs said, “He took me to the ground. This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
Gianforte’s campaign blamed the altercation on Jacobs’ “aggressive behavior,” and offered a version of events at odds with the audio recording and witnesses. Fox News correspondent Alicia Acuna reported that she and her crew witnessed the incident and saw Gianforte grab Jacobs “by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.” She continued, “To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs shows any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte.
The election, being held today, will be somewhat affected by the altercation as three local newspapers rescinded their endorsements of the GOP candidate.
Supporters of Democratic candidate Rob Quist were in disagreement about how much effect the incident would have on the already tight race. One Missoula resident, Charley Carpenter said, “It’s close, I think, and this could definitely make a difference. It should make a difference.” It was also noted that seven in 10 voters will already have voted, absentee, beofore the polls opened today.