Montana's Gianforte avoids jail time for reporter assault

Gianforte also was assessed a $385 fine and a six-month suspended jail sentence by the Gallatin County justice court on Monday after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor assault charge.

According to reporter Whitney Bermes of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Gallatin County Judge Rick West ruled Gianforte will face no jail time; he initially called for Gianforte to serve four days, but changed his ruling after a conference with Gianforte's attorney.

Gianforte was sentenced to a suspended sentence, community service, and anger management classes.

According to CBS News, Gianforte has paid more than $4,600 in restitution to Jacobs for the assault and wrote an apology letter.

Gianforte will contribute $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists as part of the settlement.

Gianforte faced charges after body-slamming journalist Ben Jacobs of The Guardian the day before the special election for Montana's at-large House seat.

Gianforte is expected to travel to Washington within the next few weeks to be sworn in by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Gianforte took questions from three reporters after his sentencing, where he made this statement.

Jacobs also captured the incident in an audio recording, in which Gianforte can be heard yelling at the reporter. "I take full responsibility".

"[However, ] as we reported, three Fox News reporters who were in the room preparing for the interview with Gianforte confirmed that the candidate 'grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground. then began punching the reporter'". Gianforte said he did.

Jacobs said Monday that he was just "doing my job" when Gianforte attacked him, injuring his elbow and breaking his glasses, and "thrusting me into a national spotlight I did not seek".

That night, Gianforte was charged with assault.

"I look forward to putting this behind me", he said.

"The last guy did the same damn thing", Gianforte says.

Gianforte's admitting to a "physical response to (Jacobs') legitimate question" and saying in a letter to Jacobs that "you did not initiate any physical contact with me" is a direct contradiction to a statement the Gianforte campaign released the night of the assault.

Despite Gianforte's strongly worded apology, Jacobs told the court all the gory details of a recent campaign event in Montana on the eve of the election.

Gianforte, who sold the software company he founded to Oracle for $1.8 billion in 2011, won his first political office over Democrat Rob Quist after a short but intense campaign set off by Zinke's appointment to the Cabinet post by President Donald Trump.

  • Leroy Wright