BOZEMAN, Mont. – One day before Montana’s special election to fill the state’s sole congressional seat, a reporter says he was body-slammed by the Republican candidate.
Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs had just asked multimillionaire tech entrepreneur Greg Gianforte about the GOP healthcare plan when he says Gianforte threw him to the ground, breaking his glasses, according to The Guardian.
The paper released audio that Jacobs says captured the altercation.
BuzzFeed News reporter Alexis Levinson said she was behind a half-closed door to the room Gianforte and Jacobs were in. “All of a sudden I heard a giant crash and saw Ben’s feet fly in the air as he hit the floor,” Jacobs tweeted. “Heard very angry yelling (as did all the volunteers in the room) – sounded like Gianforte.”
The Fox News crew that was there said they witnessed Gianforte grab Jacobs by the neck and slam him to the ground after Jacobs persisted in asking a question.
According to Jacobs, Gianforte walked out of the event without speaking and drove away with his aides.
Gianforte’s campaign released this statement Wednesday evening, according to NBC:
The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office would only confirm that they are investigating a report of an assault involving Gianforte and will release more information later.
Gianforte is running against Rob Quist, a 69-year-old singer songwriter-turned-Democratic congressional candidate. Quist, who looks like he rode straight out of a 1970s-era Western, has a thick black mustache, white cowboy hat and silk handkerchief hanging from his neck.
The two candidates are starkly different, and the weight of Thursday’s election has prompted numerous attack ads on television, millions in political contributions and complaints about robocalls featuring the president and vice president’s voices, according to the Associated Press. Robocalls are illegal in Montana, according to state law.
CNN contributed to this report.