Officials weigh in on Gianforte charge

Greg Gianforte

Gov. Steve Bullock and two Montana members of Congress have weighed in on assault charges filed against Greg Gianforte after an altercation with a reporter for the Guardian on Wednesday.

In a news release, Gov. Bullock, a Democrat, said, “It is unsettling on many levels that Greg Gianforte physically assaulted a journalist and then lied, refusing to take responsibility for his actions. Yesterday’s events serve as another wake up call to all Montanans and Americans that we must restore civility in politics and governing, and demand more from people who hold the public’s trust. One thing is clear: no matter what happens today, the actions of Gianforte do not reflect the values of Montana or its people.”

Sen. Jon Tester, also a Democrat, said in a news release, “This is in the hands of law enforcement. But part of the job representing the people of Montana is answering basic questions on important topics, topics such as how a dangerous healthcare plan could impact the very people you are trying to represent. It’s part of the job.”

Republican Sen. Steve Daines, who worked with Gianforte at RightNow Technologies, released a statement Thursday morning that said, “I have confidence in local law enforcement. I do know Greg Gianforte has been charged with misdemeanor assault and will leave the questions and answers to local law enforcement. I do not condone violence in any way.”

Later Thursday, Daines tweeted, “Greg Gianforte needs to apologize.”

The alleged assault drew national news coverage all day Thursday, with journalists and analysts speculating about whether the charges would change any votes. They pointed out that perhaps two-thirds of all ballots in the race had been cast absentee or by mail before Wednesday’s altercation between Gianforte and Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. Montanans interviewed at the polls on Thursday indicated that the allegations would not change how they voted.

Today is Election Day for the U.S. House race to fill the seat of Republican Ryan Zinke.

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