Greg Gianforte: Exploding Prairie Dogs, Assault, & Early Voters

Published: May 30, 2017 13:27pm EDT
By Lance Rinker, Managing Editor for Konsume Technology

Please Note: This article was updated May 30, 2017 @ 02:22pm EDT

 

Newly elected Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte was relatively unknown at the national level until May. More specifically, he was a relative unknown outside Montana until an election eve misdemeanor assault charge after he allegedly body-slammed a reporter for asking him a tough question concerning the GOP health-care bill. Audio of the altercation between Gianforte and Ben Jacobs of The Guardian can be heard below.

https://youtu.be/KQwu4wff7lI

Gianforte has since apologized to the reporter he assaulted, Ben Jacobs of The Guardian Newspaper, saying at his victory party, “When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way. Last night I made a mistake and I took an action that I can’t take back and I’m not proud of what happened. I should not have responded in the way that I did and for that I am sorry.”

Gianforte went on to say, “I should not have treated that reporter that way and for that I am sorry Mr. Ben Jacobs.”

Exploding Prairie Dogs

Before May 24, 2017, the most mentions Gianforte received in any of the major news publications had to do with his candidacy for Montana’s sole House seat up for grabs and an April hunting trip with Donald Trump Jr. That April hunting trip received quite a bit of backlash from The Humane Society, as Trump Jr. and Gianforte may have been shooting and killing pregnant or nursing prairie dogs since they breed in March through June.

As good Montanans, we want to show good hospitality to people,” Gianforte said. “What can be more fun than to spend an afternoon shooting the little rodents.”

The Humane Society stated, “In using high-powered weapons to kill prairie dogs, the animals can seem to explode or have body parts severed and sent flying.” Perhaps that’s the reason Gianforte believes it is fun to kill the “little rodents.”

That outcry from The Humane Society and animal rights groups, in general, did little to sway Montanans from casting their ballot for Gianforte in the May general election. And while there are no game restrictions on hunting or shooting prairie dogs in Montana, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks their population is on the decline and they are a “species of concern.”

AKA the “Body-Slam” Case

Politicians, aspiring politicians, entertainers, and anyone that happens to find themselves in the spotlight for any reason is likely to encounter journalists. Politicians and aspiring politicians especially encounter journalists and other members of the media on a regular basis. Then-Republican candidate and now Congressman-Elect, Greg Gianforte reportedly “body slammed” Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian at a meet-and-greet event the evening before election night. The altercation, according to Jacobs, broke his glasses and left him bruised and banged up. He was taken to a hospital in an ambulance for medical treatment.

Jacobs took to Twitter that same evening to describe what had happened:

Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses

— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 24, 2017

A Fox News crew was also present during the assault and backed Jacobs’ claim and description of the evening’s events.

“To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte,” Acuna wrote at FoxNews.com.

Gianforte is scheduled to appear in a Montana court by June 7, assuming charges are not dropped and a settlement/agreement reached outside of the court system before them.

Can Gianforte Serve in Congress if Convicted of Assault?

There are more questions than answers surrounding Republican Greg Gianforte’s legal ability to serve in Congress if he is convicted of assault in what is being coined the “body-slam” case. Currently, there is nothing specifically written within the United States Constitution preventing an elected official from serving his or her elected term, or continuing to serve if they have been fairly elected and have not committed or been convicted of treason.

According to William Banks, Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at Syracuse University, the only barrier Gianforte could potentially face is if he were to be jailed for a term of two or more years. However, misdemeanor assault in Montana is only punishable by up to six months in jail. The odds of Gianforte serving any jail time is incredibly unlikely as the case is something routinely settled either out of court, or Gianforte would likely receive a suspended sentence and/or probation provided he has no prior history of violent offenses or criminal record.

What are Republicans Saying?

House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.) briefly stated he believed Gianforte should apologize, “There’s no time where a physical altercation should occur with the press or just between human beings.”

However, another Republican representative felt differently.

“It’s not appropriate behavior. Unless the reporter deserved it,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) said, according to a tweet by the Associated Press' Mary Clare Jalonick.

Then, another; Representative Mark Sanford, a South Carolina Republican, said on Thursday that he saw a direct link between the Montana episode and what he described as an erosion of American civic life.

“Some demons have been unleashed,” Mr. Sanford said in an interview, “which I think are threatening to those who believe in free speech and free governance.”

What are Democrats Saying?

Naturally, members of the Democratic party are capitalizing on the incredibly negative and violent behavior exhibited by Gianforte.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, one of the country’s most senior Democrats, has called Congressman-Elect Gianforte a “wannabe Trump.” She went on to say, “I viewed that as a mom and a grandmother,” Pelosi said at a press conference on Capitol Hill, according to the Associated Press.

“We try to have some level of dignity as to how we treat people and who we are. To see this person, who wants to be the one representative into the House of Representatives from Montana be sort of a wannabe Trump.”

She added: “You know, use language like that, treat people harshly like that that’s his model. Donald Trump’s his model.

“We’ve really got to say, ‘Come on. Behave. Behave. That was outrageous’.”

Then event even prompted one Democrat, California Representative Ted Lieu to post a sign on his office door declaring it a “bodyslam-free zone” for journalists. Representative Lieu posted the image on Twitter.

Dear Press: We have created a safe zone in our office. Reporters will (1) get the truth and (2) not get body slammed. #ThursdayThoughts pic.twitter.com/vPUrrnftLv

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) May 25, 2017

37% of Montana Voters Saved Greg Gianforte from Himself

While the violent behavior of Congressman-Elect Greg Gianforte is completely unacceptable, what seems even more unacceptable is the fact that 37% of Montana voters cast their ballots early. If it weren’t for those 37%, many of whom stated they wanted to recast their ballots in opposition of Gianforte, then the results of the race may have turned out quite differently.

Deroy Murdock of the National Review likely summed it up best in his article.

Meanwhile, some 37 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballots early, via mail. Some of them reportedly wanted their ballots back after the body-slamming episode, so they could vote against Gianforte. Oops!

These last-minute Gianforte opponents blew it, and they have no one to blame but themselves. This is precisely why America needs to ditch early voting and do what Americans did before citizens began slouching toward the polls:

Vote on Election Day.


 

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