Montana congressman-elect sentenced to community service, anger management for attack on reporter


(JTA) — Republican congressman-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management for body slamming a reporter for The Guardian, a London-based newspaper, on the eve of a special election.

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.  He could have faced a maximum $500 fine or six months in jail. He must complete his community service by Nov. 28, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.

Last week, Gianforte apologized to reporter Ben Jacobs as part of an agreement that settles any potential civil claims. The deal included a 50,000 donation to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The incident involving Gianforte, a tech millionaire who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, and Jacobs, occurred March 24, hours before the opening of the polls for a special election to fill the seat held by Ryan Zinke, who was named secretary of the interior by Trump.

Jacobs, who is Jewish, had his glasses broken in the attack. A crowdfunding campaign to replace the glasses raised more than $7,500, which Jacobs had requested be donated to the Committee to Protect Journalists. His glasses were donated to the Newseum, a museum in Washington, D.C., dedicated to journalism, at the request of the museum.

Gianforte apologized on the night of his election victory as well.

In his apology letter last week he wrote: “My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful. As both a candidate for office and a public official, I should be held to a high standard in my interactions with the press and the public. My treatment of you did not meet that standard.”

The letter also said: “Notwithstanding anyone’s statements to the contrary, you did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you. I am sorry for what I did and the unwanted notoriety this has created for you. I take full responsibility.”

Jacobs testified in court on Monday.

“I fully expect his thoughtful words to be followed by concrete actions once he takes his seat in Congress,” he said of Gianforte’s apology.

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