BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte is being charged with misdemeanor assault after a reporter said the Republican "body-slammed him" Wednesday, the day before the polls close in the nationally watched special election.
The Gallatin County Sheriff's department made the announcement in a press statement late Wednesday.
Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, called police after he said Gianforte "body-slammed" him for asking a question in the candidate's campaign office. Three Fox News staffers said they witnessed the assault while they were waiting to interview Gianforte.
The maximum penalty if convicted of the assault charge is a $500 fine and 6 months in jail. The Sheriff's department said in its statement that Jacobs' injuries did not meet the legal definition of felony assault.
Democrats are launching Facebook ads against Republican Greg Gianforte over his alleged body-slamming of a reporter.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced the spots late Wednesday. It's an almost instant turnaround before polls close Thursday evening.
The Democratic committee said it hopes to target Democrats who were otherwise unlikely to vote in the special election.
The committee said it will spend "the maximum amount of money allowable" behind ads targeting the state's Democrats. The spot includes the audio recording made by reporter Ben Jacobs as Gianforte allegedly slammed him to the ground. Fox News says a crew saw Gianforte grab Jacobs by the neck and slam him to the ground.
Gianforte's campaign says the two fell to the ground together while fighting over a recorder.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said authorities are investigating.
Fox News says a crew saw Montana's House candidate Greg Gianforte grab a Guardian reporter by the neck and slam him to the ground.
In a first-person account posted on its website, a Fox reporter says the three-person crew went to the Republican's campaign headquarters to interview him Wednesday, the day before the special election to fill the state's lone House seat.
Alicia Acuna writes that they watched Gianforte in disbelief as he punched Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs after slamming him to the ground.
Jacobs had walked into the office and asked the candidate about the GOP's health care bill and persisted when Gianforte referred him to his spokesman.
After Jacobs left, Gianforte apologized to the Fox crew.
Authorities plan to interview the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat about his involvement in a physical altercation with a reporter the day before the special election.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said during a news conference Wednesday night that the department can't provide much information about the confrontation between Greg Gianforte and Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs because authorities are investigating.
Authorities also will interview Jacobs, who says Gianforte body-slammed him and broke his glasses as he was asking questions Wednesday.
Gianforte's campaign says Jacobs entered a private office without permission and aggressively shoved a recorder in the candidate's face.
A spokeswoman for Democrat Rob Quist declined to comment about allegations that his opponent body slammed a reporter on the eve of a special election for Montana's sole congressional seat.
Tina Olechowski says Quist was making the rounds across the state to thank volunteers and was on his way to Missoula on Wednesday when the altercation involving Republican Greg Gianforte happened.
Gianforte's campaign says Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs entered a private office without permission and "aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face." Campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon says Gianforte tried to grab Jacobs' phone, then Jacobs grabbed the candidate's wrist and they both fell.
Authorities say they're investigating allegations of assault.
Democrats say the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat must quit after being accused of attacking a reporter on the day before the special election.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Tyler Law says the Republican Party should publicly denounce Greg Gianforte and apologize for the millions of dollars they spent on his behalf.
Authorities say they're investigating allegations of assault.
The Gianforte campaign says Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs entered a private office without permission and "aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face." Campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon says Gianforte tried to grab Jacobs' phone, then Jacobs grabbed the candidate's wrist and they both fell.
In an audio recording posted by the newspaper, Gianforte can be heard saying that he was "sick and tired of you guys" and to "get the hell out of here."
The campaign for the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat accused of attacking a reporter says he was trying to grab the reporter's phone and later both lost their balance.
Greg Gianforte campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon said the candidate was in a private office Wednesday giving an interview when Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission.
He says Gianforte tried to grab the phone being used as an audio recorder. He says Jacobs then grabbed Gianforte's wrist and both apparently fell to the ground.
A special election to fill the U.S House seat is Thursday.
A reporter for the Guardian newspaper is alleging that the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat "body-slammed" him on the day before the special election.
The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office says it's investigating allegations of an assault involving Greg Gianforte, a wealthy Bozeman businessman.
Gianforte campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon said the candidate was in a private office giving an interview when reporter Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission.
He says in a statement that Jacobs was asked to leave after trying to ask questions.
The newspaper posted an audio recording that captured the tension. In the recording, Gianforte can be heard saying that he was "sick and tired of you guys."
Montana voters are heading to the polls Thursday to decide a nationally watched congressional election amid uncertainty in Washington over President Donald Trump's agenda and his handling of the country's affairs.
The flow of big money in the race portended an epic battle at the ballot box - as Republican groups poured cash into the state to help Greg Gianforte retain the state's only U.S House seat for his party and as Democrat Rob Quist rallied progressives attempting to push back against last fall's GOP tide.
The wild card is Libertarian Mark Wicks who could upend the political ambitions of his competitors.
In a last-minute turn, local authorities were investigating robocalls reportedly made by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on behalf of Gianforte. The pre-recorded calls are illegal in Montana.
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