Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte was cited last night for misdemeanor assault after allegedly body-slamming a reporter who asked him a question about his stance on proposed health care legislation, The Missoulian reports. The incident occurred a few hours before today’s special election to fill Montana’s lone U.S. House seat, left vacant when President Trump appointed Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary. Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks also are running. Washington, D.C.-based reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian called Bozeman police to accuse Greg Gianforte of assaulting him during an interview at a barbecue for campaign volunteers. “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses,” Ben Jacobs tweeted.
A Fox News reporter, Alicia Acuna, wrote that “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. … (The news crew) watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of, ‘I’m sick and tired of this!'” Those accounts differed sharply from a statement issued by Gianforte’s campaign. Jacobs was treated at at a hospital, and released, said Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin. The sheriff’s office said Jacobs’ injuries “did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault.” The Guardian posted a 45-second audio recording of the incident, which began when Jacobs tried to ask Gianforte about a new Congressional Budget Office report on the cost of the health care proposal passed in the House of Representatives.