Judge orders Montana’s Gianforte photographed, fingerprinted for assault
HELENA, Mont. — A judge has ordered Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte to be photographed and fingerprinted for assaulting a reporter in May, opening the door for the congressman’s mug shot to be plastered in opponents’ campaign ads in next year’s election.
Justice Court Judge Rick West on Monday ordered the Montana Republican to report to the Gallatin County Detention Center to be booked for the assault charge by Sept. 15.
Gianforte had argued that he should not have to be photographed and fingerprinted because he was never formally arrested for attacking Ben Jacobs when the Guardian reporter tried to ask him a question about health care on May 24.
Jacobs said then that Gianforte “body slammed” him and broke his glasses.
Prosecutors filed the misdemeanor assault charge later that day.
The day after the assault, Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist in the special election to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as Montana’s only congressman.
Gianforte pleaded guilty in June.
However, Gianforte contested the judge’s original order then that he be booked, fingerprinted and photographed. His attorneys said a justice court judge does not have authority to order a defendant to be photographed or fingerprinted, and that Gianforte is exempt because he was charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony.
West said in his order, signed Friday, that “the Court has authority to order fingerprinting and photographing. If Gianforte doesn’t comply by Sept. 15, he will be in contempt of court, West wrote.
Gianforte spokesman Travis Hall and the congressman’s attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment.
Gianforte was fined $385 and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counseling. He also apologized to Jacobs and gave $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
He plans to work off his community service sentence with a Bozeman organization that builds custom wheelchairs for children.