Greg Gianforte, who assaulted a reporter the night before he won election to an open seat for U.S. House in Montana, pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor assault charge in the case.
He was sentenced, according to Twitter accounts, to 40 hours community service, 20 hours anger management and $385 fine/fees. His earlier settlement of a potential civil case by the reporter, Ben Jacobs of The Guardian, included a written apology and a $50,000 payment to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Neither Gianforte nor his staff has yet commented about a dishonest statement put out by his campaign staff the night of the event. It said Jacobs had grabbed Gianforte first and otherwise provoked a reaction by his questions about health care legislation.
The Missoulian reported that Gianforte again apologized to Jacobs at a court hearing today.
Jacobs, who attended the hearing, read from a statement that said Gianforte slammed him to the ground and punched him. When asked by the judge what happened during the assault, Gianforte said he grabbed for Jacobs’ cellphone and ended up grabbing his wrists and the two men ended up on the ground.
In a courtroom packed with journalists and spectators in Bozeman, Montana, Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, saying, “Although it was not my intention to hurt him, I understand Ben was injured.”
After judge Rick West repeatedly asked Gianforte whether he believed he caused injury to Jacobs, the congressman-elect said he did. West initially considered sentencing Gianforte to four days behind bars, but ultimately said he did not want the congressman-elect to take up space in jail and instead ordered him to complete 40 hours of community service.
Jacobs said he’d like to interview Gianforte and the congressman-elect said he looked forward to sitting down with him.