BOZEMAN, Mont. — One day before Montana’s special election to fill the state’s sole congressional seat, a reporter said he was body-slammed by the Republican candidate Wednesday.
Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs had just asked multimillionaire tech entrepreneur Greg Gianforte about the GOP health care plan when he said Gianforte threw him to the ground, breaking his glasses, according to The Guardian.
Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office investigators said late Wednesday night they cited Gianforte for misdemeanor assault.
The newspaper released audio that Jacobs says captured the altercation.
A Fox News team witnessed the incident. Reporter Alicia Acuna, who is based in the network’s Denver bureau, wrote her account in an post on FoxNews.com.
“Ben Jacobs of The Guardian walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if him if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act,” she wrote.
“Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.”
It was at that point, Acuna said, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.”
BuzzFeed News reporter Alexis Levinson said she was behind a half-closed door to the room Gianforte and Jacobs were in.
“All of a sudden I heard a giant crash and saw Ben’s feet fly in the air as he hit the floor,” Jacobs tweeted. “Heard very angry yelling (as did all the volunteers in the room) — sounded like Gianforte.”
According to Jacobs, Gianforte walked out of the event without speaking and drove away with his aides.
Gianforte’s campaign released a statement Wednesday evening.
The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office would only confirm it is investigating a report of an assault involving Gianforte and will release more information later.
Gianforte is running against Rob Quist, a 69-year-old singer songwriter-turned-Democratic congressional candidate.
The two candidates are starkly different, and the weight of Thursday’s election has prompted numerous attack ads on television, millions in political contributions and complaints about robocalls featuring the president and vice president’s voices, according to the Associated Press.
Robocalls are illegal in Montana, according to state law.