HELENA, Mont. — A Montana prosecutor asked a judge Thursday to require U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte to be fingerprinted and photographed after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter.
Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert asked Justice Court Judge Rick West to reject the Republican congressman’s request that he be exempted from the usual booking process for criminal defendants.
A mug shot would certainly be used as ammunition against Gianforte in his bid for re-election. Already, national Democrats consider him a potential target as they seek to recapture the U.S. House.
Gianforte pleaded guilty in June to a misdemeanor charge of assaulting a reporter for the Guardian newspaper, Ben Jacobs, on the eve of the May 25 special election won by the Bozeman entrepreneur.
Audio posted by Jacobs shortly after the attack recorded sounds of a scuffle, followed by Gianforte yelling for the reporter to “get the hell out of here.” Jacobs tweeted that Gianforte had “body slammed” him and broke his glasses while he tried to question him about his position on federal health care legislation.
West ordered Gianforte to pay $385 in fines and court costs. West sentenced Gianforte to 40 hours of community service and ordered him to undergo 20 hours of anger management counseling.
West also ordered Gianforte to be officially booked, but his attorneys objected, saying Gianforte was never actually arrested. Sheriff’s deputies said Gianforte was questioned briefly at the scene but was never detained.
It’s not clear when the judge would issue a ruling. He could schedule a hearing or rule based on the written arguments.
A Gianforte spokesman reserved comment until he could consult with the congressman, who he said was en route to Montana from Washington.
Gianforte’s attorneys challenged West’s booking order by asserting that a Justice Court judge “does not ever have authority to issue an order directing a defendant to be fingerprinted or photographed.” They also argued that he was exempt from booking because he was charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony.
Lambert said Gianforte’s attorneys erroneously interpreted the law and that the judge does have the authority to order Gianforte to be booked.
Gianforte publicly and privately apologized to Jacobs, and paid more than $4,600 in restitution for medical bills, travel and other expenses. Gianforte also gave $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists.