Gianforte gets community service for body-slamming reporter

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WASHINGTON – Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana on Monday pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter but avoided jail time – receiving a sentence of community service and anger management counseling.

Gianforte, a multimillionaire technology entrepreneur and the Republican nominee for governor last year, was elected in a spcial election on May 25 – the day after assaulting Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. The reporter said Gianforte body slammed him after becoming enraged when Jacobs asked him a question about the healh care bill. Jacobs’ audiotape of the incident captured a scuffle, Jacobs saying Gianforte had broken his eyeglasses and Gianforte ordering him to “get the hell out of here.”

Gallatin County Justice of the Peace Rick West in Bozeman sentenced Gianforte to 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management counseling and ordered him to pay a $385 fine for the misdemeanor. If he stays out of trouble for 180 days, he can petition for the conviction to be removed from his record.

Gianforte’s attorneys said their client had paid more than $4,600 in restitution to Jacobs, who signed a release agreeing not to sue. Gianforte wrote a letter of apology to Jacobs and pledged to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Ben Jacobs (Twitter/Ben Jacobs)

“I am pleased to see that this issue has been resolved, that Congressman-elect Gianforte has taken responsibility for his actions and justice has been served,” Jacobs said. “I fully expect Congressman-elect Gianforte’s thoughtful apology will be followed by concrete measures once he has taken his seat in Congress. I hope the court’s decision will send a strong message about the necessity of civil discourse and the importance of a free press.”

Gianforte is expected to be sworn in this month. Jacobs said in an MSNBC interview that he intends to cover Gianforte and will continue to ask him questions.

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