Montana’s GOP House Candidate Charged with Assault

Via the NYT:  Greg Gianforte, Montana G.O.P. Candidate, Is Charged in Attack on Reporter

The Republican candidate in a hotly contested special House election in Montana was charged with assaulting a journalist on Wednesday at what was to be a final rally in Bozeman on the eve of the vote. The attack brought police officers to the event and sent the reporter to the hospital for X-rays.

In a statement late Wednesday, the office of the Gallatin County sheriff, Brian Gootkin, said there was enough evidence to charge the candidate, Greg Gianforte, with misdemeanor assault. Mr. Gianforte, the Republican candidate for the state’s lone House seat, is scheduled to appear in court before June 7.


Members of a Fox News television crew witnessed the encounter, and in a firsthand account posted on the network’s website, one of the Fox journalists described Mr. Gianforte as “punching the reporter.”

“As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, ‘I’m sick and tired of this!'” according to the Fox News account.

Mr. Jacobs said Mr. Gianforte became agitated when asked about the Congressional Budget Office’s new fiscal assessment of the legislation that House Republicans have passed to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Audio of the alleged attack can be found at the link.

The special election is today, although due to early voting, this incident may not have as much effect on the outcome as one might expect.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Jay L. Gischer says:

    The headline says “Washington” where it should say “Montana”.

  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    What happens after the election, if Gianforte wins? He’s already been charged. All witnesses on the scene (and the recorded audio) support the journalist’s side, so I think conviction is at least likely. Will the House GOP caucus seat someone who will be undergoing a trial and conviction (assuming he doesn’t plead out)? And if they don’t, does that mean Montana immediately goes back into another election cycle?

  3. @Neil Hudelson:

    I address the issue of what happens in the event Gianforte wins in my post. The short answer is that being charged with a misdemeanor would not disqualify him from taking his seat, and neither would a conviction.

    It’s also worth noting that the crime he’s charged with is a misdemeanor, not a felony.

  4. @Jay L. Gischer: Indeed, thanks.

    I have no idea what prompted that error. Ugh.

  5. bandit says:

    He slammed a Guardian reporter? How could anyone not vote for him now?? LOLZ

  6. David M says:


    1. What’s wrong with you?
    2. Jacobs is an American citizen
    3. It wouldn’t matter if he wasn’t
    4. Really, wtf is wrong with you?

  7. SenyorDave says:

    @bandit: I guess if he had injured him you would want him for senator. As commenter David M said, WTF is wrong with you. Please tell us you don’t have kids, praying that your DNA is not passed along.

  8. MBunge says:

    And it looks like Gianforte is going to win. Which brings to mind two things.

    1. Nobody who indulged in that recent “Punch a Nazi” nonsense has any business getting upset at this.

    2. Maybe this will finally make some folks in the media understand how loathed they are by a significant section of the public. Probably not, though.


  9. Franklin says:

    @MBunge: I’m not personally a fan of punching anybody, but don’t you think fighting violent fascism is different than fighting the free press?