Gianforte apologizes to reporter and pledges contribution to press group
Posted June 8
Greg Gianforte, the Montana Congressman-elect charged with assaulting Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, sent an apology letter on Wednesday.
Gianforte also pledged to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization that promotes press freedom, "in the hope that perhaps some good can come of these events."
The events referred to an encounter on May 24, when Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault after Ben Jacobs accused the politician of "body slamming" him at a campaign event.
Gianforte won the election the next day and apologized to the reporter during his acceptance speech. On Wednesday, he issued a letter to Jacobs.
"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."
"I made a mistake and humbly ask for your forgiveness," the letter stated.
He will enter a plea of "no contest" as part of a settlement with Jacobs, according to an email and documents obtained by CNN. The donation to Committee to Protect Journalists must be made before June 9, according to the document.
Gianforte is scheduled to appear in a Montana court on June 20, to face misdemeanor assault charges stemming from the incident.
Jacobs accepted the apology.
"I have accepted Mr. Gianforte's apology and his willingness to take responsibility for his actions and statements," Jacobs said in a statement. "I hope the constructive resolution of this incident reinforces for all the importance of respecting the freedom of the press and the First Amendment and encourages more civil and thoughtful discourse in our country."
During their encounter at Gianforte's campaign headquarters in Bozeman last month, Jacobs had been asking the then-candidate about the Republican healthcare plan when the alleged body slamming took place.
Gianforte's campaign initially blamed the altercation on Jacobs' "aggressive behavior" and offered a version of events at odds with the audio recording and witnesses.
In Wednesday's letter, Gianforte stated: "I had no right to respond the way did to your legitimate question about healthcare policy. You were doing your job."