Authorities: Montana Republican congressional candidate cited for misdemeanor assault over incident with reporter

FILE - In this March 6, 2017, file photo, Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter in Helena, Mont. Montana voters are heading to the polls Thursday, May 25, 2017, to decide a nationally watched congressional election amid uncertainty in Washington over President Donald Trump’s agenda and his handling of the country’s affairs. (AP Photo/Matt Volz, File)
FILE - In this March 6, 2017, file photo, Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter in Helena, Mont. Montana voters are heading to the polls Thursday, May 25, 2017, to decide a nationally watched congressional election amid uncertainty in Washington over President Donald Trump’s agenda and his handling of the country’s affairs. (AP Photo/Matt Volz, File)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A reporter said the Republican candidate for Montana’s sole congressional seat “body-slammed” him Wednesday, the day before the special election.

Greg Gianforte, a Republican, was in a private office giving an interview when Guardian newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs went into the office without permission, Gianforte campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon said.

Fox News says their crew saw Gianforte grab the Guardian reporter by the neck and slam him to the ground.

Authorities said Gianforte was cited for misdemeanor assault over an incident with a reporter.

Jacobs “aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions” before being asked to leave, Scanlon said in a statement.

Gianforte asked Jacobs to lower a phone that being used as an audio recorder, then tried to grab it, the campaign said. Scanlon said Jacobs then grabbed Gianforte’s wrist and both apparently fell to the ground.

FILE - In this April 29, 2017, file photo, three candidates, from left, Republican Greg Gianforte, Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks vying to fill Montana’s only congressional seat await the start of their only televised debate in Great Falls, Mont. Montana voters are heading to the polls Thursday, May 25, 2017, to decide a nationally watched congressional election amid uncertainty in Washington over President Donald Trump’s agenda and his handling of the country’s affairs. (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, file)
FILE – In this April 29, 2017, file photo, three candidates, from left, Republican Greg Gianforte, Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks vying to fill Montana’s only congressional seat await the start of their only televised debate in Great Falls, Mont. Montana voters are heading to the polls Thursday, May 25, 2017, to decide a nationally watched congressional election amid uncertainty in Washington over President Donald Trump’s agenda and his handling of the country’s affairs. (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, file)

Jacobs tweeted that Gianforte broke his glasses and is heard telling the candidate in an audio recording that the newspaper posted. In the recording, Gianforte can be heard saying that he was “sick and tired of you guys” and to “get the hell out of here.”

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating allegations of an assault involving the wealthy Bozeman businessman.

Jacobs, who was taken to a Bozeman hospital, could not be reached for comment by The Associated Press, and authorities did not provide any other details about the altercation.

The allegations come as Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist made their final appeal to voters ahead of Thursday’s special election to fill the state’s seat in the U.S. House. Ryan Zinke resigned to join Trump’s Cabinet as secretary of the Interior Department.

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