Last May, one day before the Montana special election, Republican Greg Gianforte was caught on tape body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. Gianforte later apologized to Jacobs and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, but not before knowingly misleading law enforcement officials by suggesting Jacobs was the one who initiated physical contact. “Liberal media…is trying to make a story,” Gianforte told police at the time.
Less than a year later, Gianforte is tacitly campaigning on this violent episode. As a new fundraising email bearing his electronic signature reads:
“Friend, we were able to win a tough, close victory against the Democrats and the leftist media in the most expensive congressional contest in Montana history. But we’ve got an even bigger challenge in 2018! Please lend your crucial support to my campaign.”
Gianforte, a former technology executive, went on to defeat Democrat Rob Quist by more than 6 points and fill Rep. Ryan Zinke’s vacated seat in the House of Representatives. In June, he was sentenced to 40 hours of community service, anger management classes and a $385 fine. Gianforte promised to hash things out with Jacobs in person after entering his plea, but has since reneged.
His latest missive to donors offers one of two possible interpretations: He’s consciously bragging about pummeling a political reporter, or he’s positioning himself, again, as the victim of a liberal conspiracy. Either way, Gianforte’s tactics are no less authoritarian than those of Donald Trump.
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