National News

In settlement with reporter, Gianforte gives $50K to journalists' committee

Posted June 8

— U.S. Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte, in a settlement with the reporter he assaulted on the eve of his election, has agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Guardian reported Wednesday night.

The Guardian, a British publication, said Gianforte also apologized to the reporter, Ben Jacobs, in a letter that said his conduct toward the reporter on the night of May 24 was "unprofessional, unacceptable and unlawful."

Jacobs and the Guardian agreed not to pursue civil action against Gianforte, a Republican who won Montana's May 25 special election to fill the state's vacant and only U.S. House seat.

Gianforte still faces a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly throwing Jacobs to the ground and punching him at a campaign event in Bozeman.

Jacobs had been questioning Gianforte about a Republican healthcare bill before Congress.

Neither Gallatin County authorities nor Gianforte could be reached about whether the settlement with the Guardian affects the criminal case.

However, as part of the settlement, Jacobs said he won't object to Gianforte being allowed to plead "no contest" to the charge.

Gianforte has until June 20 to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court on the charge.

Gianforte said his donation to the Committee to Protect Journalists was made "in the hope that perhaps some good can come of these events." The committee is a nonprofit group that promotes press freedom and protection of the rights and safety of journalists worldwide.

His letter to Jacobs also said: "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."

Gianforte, 56, a Bozeman software entrepreneur, is expected to be sworn into office later this month. He'll succeed Republican Ryan Zinke, who resigned the seat March 1 to become U.S. Interior secretary.

Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist in the May 25 election by 50 percent to 44 percent. Libertarian Mark Wicks had 6 percent.

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