Montana Republican Greg Gianforte was recently elected to represent his state in the U.S. House of Representatives, but he’s already facing a mountain of opposition over his altercation with a reporter on the eve of the election.
Friday, four press freedom advocacy groups lodged an ethics complaint against Gianforte, for assaulting reporter Ben Jacobs, of The Guardian.
Calling for an investigation into the matter, the complaint was filed Friday by the Society of Professional Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, Free Press Action Fund and PEN America, and a letter was also sent to President Trump advising him of the complaint.
In the letter, the group alleged to Trump, “We fear that the rhetoric employed during your campaign and by the White House – such as referring to the press as the ‘enemy of the people’ and the ‘opposition party’ – is increasingly being translated into aggressive action by public officials against journalists.”
In the ethics complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics, they wrote,
“Based on past precedent, physical assaults by members of Congress clearly do not reflect ‘creditably’ on the House. Further, we would submit that Rep. Gianforte’s assault of reporter Ben Jacobs is even more troubling as a matter of law, House rules and, indeed, democratic norms, given that the ‘body slam’ came in response to a question by Jacobs to Gianforte on a matter clearly in the public interest.”
“The requirement in the rules for swift action is particularly appropriate in this case given the highly public and very troubling nature of Rep. Gianforte’s attack on reporter Ben Jacobs, and its relation to a recent pattern of escalating rhetoric and attacks on American journalists.”
Jacobs had reported pressed Gianforte with questions the night before the Montana special election, asking about his opinion on the effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Gianforte became frustrated and finally grabbed Jacobs, slamming him to the ground and breaking his glasses in the process.
Gianforte, 56, a business entrepreneur from Bozeman, Montana, was charged with a misdemeanor, but has not been convicted, and is expected to appear in court by June 7. Potentially, the charge could be punishable with up to six months in prison or a $500 fine, or both.
He has apologized for his actions. During his victory rally, he said, “I should not have responded in the way that I did and for that I’m sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way and for that I am sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs.”
Friday, Gianforte sat down in an interview with MTN News from his home, and repeated his apology again to Jacobs.
“I made a mistake. And when you make a mistake, you take responsibility, you own up to it, and I think that’s the right course of action. I think it’s the way we repair relationships and move forward. … As I said at the beginning, that is not who I am, it’s not going to define my leadership for the state, and I look forward to working, going forward to represent all of Montana,” Gianforte said.
The full interview is available at the link below:
— KTVH (@KTVHNews) June 2, 2017
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