JTA - The Republican candidate for a Montana congressional seat was charged with misdemeanor assault after body-slamming a Jewish reporter for London-based The Guardian.
The incident occurred Wednesday evening, hours before the opening of the polls for a special election.
Guardian political reporter Ben Jacobs asked Republican candidate Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire, a question about the Republican health care plan before being attacked, according to the Guardian.
"Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses," Jacobs wrote on his Twitter account.
Jacobs has been covering the candidate for several weeks. Late last month he reported on Gianforte’s financial ties to Russian companies sanctioned by the United States. Gianforte’s wealth is estimated at between $65 million and $315 million, according to The Guardian. He unsuccessfully ran for governor last year.
"He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said of the attack. He called in the information to the newspaper by phone from the back of an ambulance. “I think he wailed on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.” The candidate also broke the reporter’s glasses during the altercation.
“I decided there was no harm in asking one question, and the worst thing that could happen was they would tell me to go to hell,” Jacobs told his own newspaper.
The attack was witnessed by reporters from Fox News.
Gianforte reportedly shouted “I’m sick and tired of this!” and “get the hell out of here” as her began his attack, according to Fox. The Fox staffers who witnessed the attack said that Jacobs was never physically aggressive toward Gianforte.
Jacobs reported the incident to police, leading to the assault charges.
Gianforte campaign spokesperson Shane Scanlon said in a statement that Jacobs “entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions.”
“Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground,” the statement said.
The incident occurred in Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, which has been the site recently of more than one instance of anti-Semitism, including the drop of anti-Semitic leaflets in front yards in neighborhoods throughout the city.
Gianforte is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court between by June 7. He faces a maximum $500 fine or six months in jail if convicted.
The election pits Gianforte against Democratic folk musician Rob Quist to fill the seat held by Ryan Zinke, who was named Interior Secretary by President Donald Trump.