Congressman Who Assaulted Reporter Files Papers For Montana Governor Run

Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte admitted to body-slamming a reporter on the eve of winning a 2017 special election.

In preparation for a run for the Montana governor’s office in 2020, Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte filed paperwork with the state’s Political Practices Office to begin fundraising for his campaign, Helena news station KTVH reported.

Gianforte, 58, expressed his interest in Montana’s gubernatorial race during an interview with The Hill on Tuesday. At least four other Republicans have joined the primary race, including state Attorney General Tim Fox, Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, state Sen. Al Olszewski and former state Sen. Gary Perry.

Montana’s current governor, Steve Bullock, a Democrat who has served two four-year terms, is set to reach the end of his term limit in 2020. Montana has had a Democratic governor since 2005, when Brian Schweitzer gained office.

Gianforte, who is six months into his first full congressional term, was successful in his recent political campaigns for Congress despite a violent scandal in 2017, when he assaulted former Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs.

Before he was announced the winner of Montana’s only seat in the House of Representatives, Gianforte body-slammed Jacobs to the ground and punched him. An audio recording of the assault was captured on a recorder, and Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault in May 2017. 

Gianforte later pleaded guilty to the attack and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management sessions, and was fined $385. The Republican also reached a settlement with Jacobs, in which he had to apologize to the reporter and pay $50,000 to the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists.

Gianforte is expected to publicly announce his gubernatorial run next week when the state’s Republican Party meets for a convention in Helena, a campaign spokesman told KTVH.

No Democrats have formally announced campaigns for Montana governor, but Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke are rumored to be interested in running, according to the Montana Free Press.