Greg Gianforte, the Republican running against Democrat Rob Quist in Thursday's special election for the open House seat in Montana, has been issued a citation for misdemeanor assault related to his reported manhandling of reporter Ben Jacobs at a campaign event Wednesday evening in Bozeman, Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin said Wednesday night. "The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault," Gootkin said in a statement, adding that Gianforte "is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court between now and June 7." The punishment for misdemeanor assault is no more than $500 or up to 6 months in county jail.
Gootkin also said that he had been asked about a political contribution he'd made to Gianforte's campaign. "I did contribute $250 on March 23, 2017," the sheriff said. "This contribution has nothing to do with our investigation which is now complete." Gianforte has long been expected to win the heavily Republican state, though the race is much closer than Republicans would like. Quist has been hammering Gianforte for telling donors he supports the House GOP health-care bill and telling the public he opposes it; Jacobs was asking Gianforte about the new Congressional Budget Office score of the bill when, according to Fox News reporters in the room, Gianforte "grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground."