HELENA – Montana’s only congressman, Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, showed up at the Gallatin County jail Friday morning to be photographed and fingerprinted for his assault charge for punching a reporter on the eve of his election.
But Gianforte’s mug shot is not public information, and won’t be publicly released unless approved by a District Court judge, Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert told MTN News.
Lambert said mug shots are considered “confidential criminal justice information” in Gallatin County.
Citizens can request release of that information, arguing that the public’s right to know outweighs the individual right to privacy. A district judge would decide that request.
A spokesman for Gianforte declined to say Friday whether the congressman will assert his right to privacy, if a request is made for the mug shot.
“Greg has fulfilled the terms (of the sentence); the matter is resolved,” said spokesman Travis Hall. “He remains 100 percent focused on serving the people of Montana.”
Gianforte assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on the eve of the May 25 special election that Gianforte won to become Montana’s only U.S. House member.
At Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Jacobs had been asking the then-candidate for a statement on a Republican health-care bill before Congress. Gianforte threw him to the ground and started punching him, according to another reporter who witnessed the incident.
Gianforte was cited for misdemeanor assault and later pleaded guilty. But he was never arrested, and argued that he shouldn’t have to get a mug shot or be fingerprinted.
Justice of the Peace Rick West, however, ruled this Monday that Gianforte did have to be photographed and fingerprinted for the charge.
Gianforte went through the process at 6:37 a.m. Friday at the jail.
Before pleading guilty to the assault charge on June 12, Gianforte made a written apology to Jacobs and agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists, which advocates for press freedom and safety for journalists.
For the assault, he was fined $300, ordered to take a 20-hour anger-management class and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service. Gianforte’s office said he has fulfilled the terms of the sentence.