Greg Gianforte, the congressman-elect who body slammed a reporter who was asking questions about healthcare shortly before an election, has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault. He will receive no jail time for his crime, according to the LA Times.
Judge Rick West has ordered Gianforte to serve 40 hours of community service, attend 20 hours of anger management sessions, and pay $385 in fines. Gianforte had originally been sentenced to four days in jail but Judge West changed his mind. Journalist Ben Jacobs, who Gianforte attacked, has agreed not to sue as part of a settlement which included a $50,000 donation to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“You accepted responsibility. You apologized,” said West, who noted the Republican's wealth and business accomplishments.
Gianforte had won the election despite the scuffle. Newspapers had vehemently denounced his behavior, and many called for him to step down.
“The people of Montana need a representative in Congress,” said Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. “They do not need a criminal. Gianforte should not be sworn in as a member of Congress, and if he is, he must resign.”
“I just want to say I’m sorry, and if and when you’re ready, I look forward to sitting down with you," Gianforte had said at the end of his hearing.
Although Gianforte has avoided jail time, he could still face consequences in Congress. A coalition of press freedom organizations have filed a complaint with congressional ethics officials.
[Photo: Getty Images]