The Latest: Gianforte wins House race after assault charge - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

The Latest: Gianforte wins House race after assault charge

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Greg Gianforte Greg Gianforte
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

(AP) - The Latest on the misdemeanor assault case against Greg Gianforte, a Republican candidate for a Montana congressional seat in a special election Thursday. (all times local):
    
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10:10 p.m.
    
Republican Greg Gianforte has won the special election for Montana's sole U.S. House seat a day after being charged with assaulting a reporter.
    
Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist on Thursday to replace Ryan Zinke, who is now President Donald Trump's interior secretary.
    
Gianforte was elected despite being charged with misdemeanor assault on Wednesday after witnesses said he grabbed a reporter for the Guardian newspaper and slammed him to the ground.
    
The multimillionaire technology entrepreneur is an enthusiastic Trump backer, and his victory was seen as an endorsement of Trump.
    
Gianforte's campaign was boosted by rallies featuring Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr. plus millions of dollars in ads by Republican groups.
    
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8:03 p.m.
    
Montana polls are closing, a day after Republican candidate Greg Gianforte was charged with assaulting a reporter.
    
Witnesses say Gianforte, a wealthy technology executive, grabbed Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, by the neck on Wednesday in a Bozeman office and threw him to the ground.
    
The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office cited him for misdemeanor assault and he has until June 7 to appear in court.
    
Gianforte was keeping a low profile Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
    
He's running against Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks.
    
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4:05 p.m.
    
A county attorney in Montana says he will review the case involving a Republican congressional candidate accused of shoving a reporter to the ground on the eve of a special election.
    
Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said Thursday he will set aside celebrity and hype and look at the facts surrounding Greg Gianforte's altercation with Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian.
    
Lambert, who was elected as a Republican, says he knows Gianforte but not well. He sometimes encounters Gianforte at church, social events and GOP functions.
    
Sheriff's officials have cited Gianforte for misdemeanor assault in the Wednesday altercation.
    
Lambert, who has not donated money to Gianforte's campaign, says he will review the sheriff's decision to pursue a misdemeanor and not a felony.
    
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3:45 p.m.
    
The sheriff who cited a Montana congressional candidate for misdemeanor assault has apologized for not disclosing that he contributed $250 to the Republican's campaign.
    
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said Thursday that he should have revealed the donation at a previous news conference held after witnesses said candidate Greg Gianforte had grabbed a reporter by the neck on Wednesday and threw him to the ground at Gianforte's campaign headquarters.
    
Gootkin said the contribution had nothing to do with his duties as sheriff.
    
Gootkin said Gianforte left his campaign headquarters while deputies were investigating the case, and investigators later heard from Gianforte's attorney that they would need to contact him before speaking with Gianforte again.
    
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2:55 p.m.
    
The sheriff who cited a Montana congressional candidate for shoving a reporter to the ground says the Republican was charged with misdemeanor assault because there was no serious bodily injury.
    
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said Thursday that under Montana law, assaults that don't result in serious injuries or involve a weapon are considered misdemeanors. Assaults that cause serious physical injuries or involve weapons are treated as felonies.
    
Gootkin said he never considered pursuing a felony charge against Greg Gianforte based on evidence collected after the Wednesday incident.
    
The reporter, Ben Jacobs, didn't have any visible injuries when he spoke to "Good Morning America" on Thursday but said he was taking "a lot of Advil" for pain.
    
He said he trusted that investigators had made the right decision on how to handle the case.
    
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12 p.m.
    
The Montana congressional candidate accused of assaulting a reporter hasn't been seen or heard from Thursday as voters go to the polls.
    
Repeated phone calls to Greg Gianforte's cellphone went unreturned Thursday. Twice it sounded like someone picked up then immediately hung up.
    
His home in Bozeman is set back on property along the Gallatin River and isn't very visible from the road. Its gate was half-opened, with a sign thanking people for not trespassing.
    
People at Gianforte's campaign headquarters referred all questions to spokesman Shane Scanlon, who was not there. No one answered the door at Scanlon's home.
    
Gianforte has backed out of at least one planned television appearance. MSNBC's "MTP Daily" says he canceled on the show.
    
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11:15 a.m.
    
Montana's Democratic governor is condemning a GOP House candidate charged with assaulting a journalist.
    
Gov. Steve Bullock said Thursday it is "unsettling that Greg Gianforte physically assaulted a journalist and then lied, refusing to take responsibility for his actions."
    
Bullock defeated Gianforte in Montana's governor's race last fall.
    
Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault Wednesday after an audio recording and eye witnesses appeared to describe him slamming a reporter for the Guardian to the ground.
    
Bullock says that no matter the outcome of Thursday's vote, "the actions of Gianforte do not reflect the values of Montana or its people."
    
Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist are vying to replace Ryan Zinke, who vacated Montana's lone House seat to become U.S. interior secretary.
    
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10:09 a.m.
    
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the GOP House candidate in Montana charged with assaulting a reporter is "a wannabe Trump."
    
"That's his model, Donald Trump," Pelosi said of Greg Gianforte, the wealthy Republican running in Thursday's special election for Montana's sole House seat.
    
Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault Wednesday after an audio recording and eye witnesses appeared to describe him slamming a reporter for the Guardian to the ground.
    
Ben Jacobs had been trying to question Gianforte about a new Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House health care bill. Gianforte's campaign accused Jacobs of "badgering."
    
Some House Republicans were not eager to comment Thursday morning but Pelosi said: "We've really got say enough. Behave. That was outrageous."
    
House Speaker Paul Ryan is calling for Gianforte to apologize, saying "that's wrong and should not happen."
    
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9:56 a.m.
    
House Speaker Paul Ryan is calling for the Republican candidate in Montana's special House election to apologize after allegedly attacking a reporter and getting charged with assault.
    
Ryan says "that's wrong and should not happen."
    
But Ryan wouldn't say if Greg Gianforte should be barred from joining the House GOP conference if he wins Thursday's election. Instead Ryan said, "I'm gonna let the people of Montana decide who they want as their representative."
    
The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Congressman Steve Stivers, also weighed in Thursday. Stivers said: "From what I know of Greg Gianforte, this was totally out of character, but we all make mistakes."
    
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9:20 a.m.
    
It's unclear how an alleged assault of a reporter by a Montana congressional candidate will affect the special election's outcome - in part because more than a third of the state's registered voters cast absentee ballots before polls opened Thursday.
    
Republican Greg Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly throwing a reporter for the Guardian to the ground at his campaign headquarters late Wednesday.
    
Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist are seeking to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant when Ryan Zinke resigned to become President Donald Trump's Interior secretary.
    
Montana's secretary of state's office says 37 percent of registered voters had returned absentee ballots as of Wednesday.
    
Montana has just over 699,000 registered voters.
    
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8:40 a.m.
    
GOP lawmakers emerging from a closed-door caucus meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday said they didn't know the facts about Republican Greg Gianforte being charged with misdemeanor assault.
    
A reporter from the Guardian accused the tech millionaire of slamming him to the ground and breaking his glasses in an altercation at Gianforte's campaign headquarters in Bozeman on Wednesday afternoon. The reporter had tried to ask Gianforte a question about the latest budget analysis of the GOP health care bill.
    
A few lawmakers did comment.
    
Asked if assaulting a reporter is appropriate behavior, California Rep. Duncan Hunter said, "Of course not. It's not appropriate behavior. Unless the reporter deserved it."
    
Indiana Rep. Luke Messer said he wasn't sure whether the incident would hurt or help Gianforte in Thursday's special election for the open House seat.
    
___
    
7:50 a.m.
    
The polls are open in a race for Montana's only congressional seat just hours after the front-running candidate was charged with beating up a reporter.
    
Republican Greg Gianforte has not appeared in public since he was charged with misdemeanor assault late Wednesday. A reporter from the Guardian accused the tech millionaire of slamming him to the ground and breaking his glasses in an altercation Wednesday afternoon at Gianforte's campaign headquarters in Bozeman.
    
Gianforte's camp issued a statement hours before the charge was filed disputing reporter Ben Jacobs' account. But an audio recording Jacobs made and a Fox News crew that witnessed the altercation back up Jacobs' version.
    
Three of Montana's biggest newspapers pulled their endorsements of Gianforte but did not endorse his opponents.
    
Jacobs told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he was doing his job and asking a question.
    
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5 a.m.
    
The Guardian reporter who authorities say was assaulted by a Montana Republican candidate for a U.S. House seat says he never touched the politician before he was thrown to the ground.
    
Ben Jacobs told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he was doing his job and asking a question of candidate Greg Gianforte as part of covering Thursday's special election.
    
Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault. He's accused of grabbing Jacobs by the throat and throwing him to the ground in his campaign office Wednesday night. Gianforte's campaign blamed Jacobs, saying the reporter was being aggressive and grabbed Gianforte.
    
Jacobs said Thursday of Gianforte's account that "the only thing that is factually correct ... is my name and place of employment."
    
Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist are seeking to fill the U.S. House seat left vacant when Ryan Zinke resigned to join Trump's Cabinet as secretary of the Interior Department.
    
___
    
12:30 a.m.
    
Thursday's special election for Montana's sole congressional seat got a last-minute twist when the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte, was charged with misdemeanor assault.
    
Greg Gianforte was cited for grabbing a reporter by the throat and throwing him to the ground in his campaign office Wednesday night. The reporter, Ben Jacobs of The Guardian, was asking Gianforte about the Republican health care bill. Three Fox News employees witnessed the attack, which was also captured on an audio recording.
    
Gianforte's campaign blamed Jacobs for the incident.
    
Many voters cast their ballot early so it'll be hard to know the impact of the charge on the election results. Authorities said Jacobs' injuries weren't severe enough for a felony assault charge.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

5/25/2017 7:04:38 PM (GMT -7:00)

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