NEW: Gianforte Sentenced To 40 Hours Of Community Service

Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge on Monday and has been sentenced to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management. He must also pay a $385 fine.

Gianforte is guilty of entering into a physical altercation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on the eve of Montana’s special House election. The at-large congressional seat was vacated by former Representative Ryan Zinke after he was appointed by President Trump to be the secretary of interior. The Republican was charged with assault just hours before the May 25 election was to begin.

Jacobs had approached then-candidate Gianforte at his campaign headquarters in Bozeman to ask about the GOP healthcare bill. Gianforte responded angrily by body slamming Jacobs to the floor and punching him. Jacob’s glasses were broken during the scuffle. The incident was caught on tape and corroborated by Fox News Reporters who were standing nearby.

Despite the onslaught of bad press that followed – and the state’s three largest newspapers withdrawing their endorsements – Gianforte still emerged triumphant on election night. He defeated Democrat and folk singer Rob Quist by a six-point margin.

“You accepted responsibility. You apologized,” stated Judge Rick West while handing down his sentence. The judge acknowledged Gianforte’s remorse and also noted the Republican tech millionaire’s business accomplishments during the hearing.

Judge West has taken some heat from the left for his apparent soft sentencing of the Montana Republican. While initially calling for Gianforte to serve four days in jail – believing he could complete a work program as an alternative to actual jail time – Judge West reversed himself upon learning that the assault charge was not eligible for the work program. West then opted for community service hours and a fine. In explaining his reasoning, West stated. “Being a congressman-elect, having to spend any time in jail isn’t something you should do.”

For his part, Gianforte is going above and beyond to make up for his transgression. In a addition to the $385 fine, Gianforte reached a settlement with Jacobs a week earlier where he agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists – a worldwide nonprofit that protects journalists and promotes press freedom. Near the end of the court hearing on Monday, Gianforte spoke directly to Jacobs: “I just want to say I’m sorry, and if and when you’re ready, I look forward to sitting down with you.”

While the book is now closed for Gianforte regarding his criminal case – he isn’t completely out of the woods just yet. A group of press freedom organizations issued a complaint with congressional ethics officials on June 2. The Montana Republican could potentially face punishment from Congress.


EXCLUSIVE: The Greg Gianforte You Haven’t Met

Virgil said that “…no day shall erase you from the memory of time.” Likewise, a momentary outburst does not erase a lifetime of enriching thousands of souls.

Much of the nation’s introduction to Greg Gianforte consists of a ten-second audiotape recorded on Wednesday. But you probably haven’t met the Greg many of us in Montana have known for years. The one who, with his wife Susan, has donated over $50 million to charities through the Gianforte Family Foundation, which they founded a decade ago and funded from the sale of an IT company they started in their basement in the early 1990’s. The Foundation’s recipients include a Christian ministry spreading the Gospel in Africa, Christian colleges from Montana to New Jersey to New Zealand, a nonprofit group building custom wheelchairs for people with disabilities in developing nations, the Alliance for Choice in Education, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Love In the Name of Christ, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Center for Law and Justice, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Intermountain Opera, the Gallatin Historical Society, and countless food banks and soup kitchens.

This list is not exhaustive, and also includes Petra Academy, a classical Christian school here in Bozeman, Montana. Greg and Susan built it and endowed it with scholarship funds to ensure the children of middle and lower income families can escape what Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) correctly calls a “present-minded education that produces cultural amnesia.” (Full disclosure: that same scholarship fund enables my wife and me to send our four children to Petra Academy, something we could never do otherwise).

None of this excuses what happened on Wednesday. The audio recording and first-hand testimony from Fox reporters make clear the assault charge against Greg is supported by probable cause. Montana law will rightly require him to either admit guilt or submit to a jury of his peers.

The question after that is whether Greg will submit to a corrupt, soulless Republican establishment. For those of us hoping Greg is one of those persons the Lord is raising up for such a time as this, his victory speech wasn’t encouraging. His apology to the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs absolutely needed to be said. But the remainder of Greg’s Chamber-of-Commerce-inspired speech was scrubbed of the faith that has animated his life. Greg promised to Make America Great Again™ without acknowledging that God made it great originally and is the only One who can again. Not a word about ending abortion, or even making it rare, a goal that even Democrats embraced not all that long ago. Not a word about defending religious liberties from the kinds of attacks never seen in our nation’s history. Not a word about advancing school choice and liberating low-income families from public schools hell-bent on instilling hatred of America’s Founding.

Greg vowed to “drain the swamp,” but didn’t give a shout-out, or even a kind mention, to the House Freedom Caucus, the only House Republicans serious about doing any draining.

Republican leaders will forever demand a secular penance from Greg without ever extending real grace to him. The RNC’s chair declared Greg’s apology “was a good first step toward redemption and I hope Gianforte continues to work toward righting his wrong.” Greg’s continuing to right his wrong will require silent acquiescence as a Republican-controlled House continues funding Obamacare, Planned Parenthood chop shops, and undeclared wars and defunding tax-cuts and border walls.

Nothing Greg does will keep the more odious members of what was once the family values party from preening. Take Rep. Mark Sanford (R-Buenos Aires), for example, who said that Greg’s confrontation with Jacobs “sounds horrendous.” Actually, a family man shoving a reporter is far less horrendous than a philanderer who sleeps with one while abandoning the wife of his youth, his four young sons, and his duties as the chief executive of a state.

The Lord has broken Greg’s pride, as He does with us all. But a Walmart optician can fix the glasses Greg broke on Wednesday afternoon, and on Wednesday night Greg returned to his house a life-long faithful husband and father. Mark Sanford, Newt Gingrich, and countless other Republicans have broken their families. They did not return home last night as life-long faithful husbands and fathers. And they won’t tonight, either. And they never will. Greg has nothing to learn about virtue from these men, and he owes them nothing.

The Left will always hate Greg, and will shout it from the rooftops every day he is in Washington. Republican leaders hate him, too, but won’t tell him to his face so long as they can pick his pockets and dictate his floor votes.

So Greg should strive to be hated for the right reasons. That means showing up in Washington in a few weeks as the man we got to know in Bozeman for many years. The one who spoke up for Christians and put considerable monies where his mouth was. The one you haven’t met yet. The one Montana Christians would be proud to introduce to you.

Greg Gianforte and the Tribalism of Politics

By now it’s a familiar pattern:  The news media, trying to create the narrative of a growing backlash against Donald Trump, descends on an election in a Republican-leaning district where the polling indicates that maybe the Democrat has a chance for an upset.  This, they say, is proof that Trump has so disgusted the country that even the voters who elected him are now turning their backs, portending a huge wave for the Democrats in 2018.  Problem is, it never seems to work out the way the media hoped.  Last time around, it was John Ossoff in Georgia’s District 6, who still couldn’t get over 50% even with millions of dollars in out-of-state money powering his campaign and Republicans splitting the vote four ways.  Now the media are shedding tears because Greg Gianforte, the Republican who manhandled a pencilneck reporter and caused a national stir, bumped off Democrat Rob Quist–a Pete Seeger wannabe folk singer who performed at nudist resorts and had a socialist streak so wide it would have made Bernie Sanders blush.  Maybe that would have played in San Francisco, but in Montana?  Not so much.

So what’s there to do, besides moving on to another narrative?  Turning on a dime, the same media that tried to convince us that people would vote against Gianforte because of Donald Trump will now say that people voted for Gianforte because of Donald Trump.  That’s because Trump has so coarsened the country with his ugly rhetoric and p-ssy grabbing, he’s made it okay–desirable even–for bully-boy politicians to smack the glasses off pajama-boy reporters.  The kind of thing that used to get you tossed out of polite society now wins elections.  What has the country become?

You’d expect that sort of thing coming from the left, as they search for an excuse as to why the coming Trump backlash never seems to materialize.  But elements on the right are also jumping on the bandwagon, decrying the loss of civility in our politics, not to mention the culture at large.  Jay Nordlinger, a writer for National Review whom I’ve long admired, neatly sums up this position with a tweet from this morning:

It’s a point I’ve heard a lot of conservative make.  And they’re absolutely correct in their thinking.  To me, politics has become far too tribal.  No matter how terrible, more and more people seem willing to justify bad behavior so long as it’s “their guy” doing it.  This is a dangerous lowering of standards, and only gives our elected leaders license to be as nasty as they wanna be.  Why shouldn’t they when the tribe will always rush to their defense?

Conservatives didn’t used to be like this.  We used to hold our people to a higher standard.  Problem is, in taking the high road, we also ended up getting our butts kicked a lot of times.  That’s what happens when you go into a fight thinking its Marquis of Queensbury rules and the other side treats it like a street rumble.  That’s always been the central weakness of conservatism.  We’re better trained and have better arguments, but all that doesn’t matter when liberals have a straight razor in their shoe and they’re not afraid to use it.

Even worse, conservatives are expected to operate at this disadvantage.  When leftists torch cars, trash Starbucks, and assault conservative speakers on college campuses, they suffer no consequences–and in fact are praised for being passionate.  Punching people in the face, meanwhile, is also considered acceptable, so long as those getting punched are considered “fascist” by those doing the punching.  Conservatives, on the other hand, aren’t even allowed to say a cross word about about liberal pieties without being accused of triggering and even violence.  How are you supposed to have a fair fight under those rules of engagement?

The short answer is you can’t.  A lot of people on the right have started to figure this out, and that’s why they’ve become more tribal.

Fight dirty or lose.  That’s where we are.

And that’s where we’ll keep going so long as there’s one set of rules for us and another set of rules for them.

Montana, Georgia Prove Laws of Politics in the Age of Trump

For seventeen months, I’ve heard how all the rules of politics have been thrown out the window. Polling, pundits and poobahs no longer rule. Now it’s the Age of Trump, where 4D chess is played between tweetstorms and threats of violence (or actual violence), they said.

But I’m ever more convinced it’s not really true. Montana, and the upcoming Georgia special elections have restored my confidence that nothing under the political sun has really changed.

We’re just measuring things wrong because we’re asking the wrong questions. The rules of politics still apply. If you’re a bad candidate running a poor campaign, you will lose. If you run against the popular will on “we care” issues of the electorate, you will lose. If nobody knows who you are and you let your opponent define you, you will lose.

If you don’t connect with voters in some meaningful way, you will lose. Whether that’s knocking on doors, going on television, sending mail pieces, or appearing in the media, a candidate has to get the word out, and stay on (some kind of) message.

What I’ve learned from Trump is that his message is Trump. Donald Trump sold and continues to sell himself, and he never stops selling. Hillary Clinton was a bad candidate who ran an insular, smug, and overall bad campaign. She couldn’t beat a candidate with more defects than a “Rolex” bought from a street vendor in Times Square.

I’ve been involved with running losing campaigns because the candidate wouldn’t listen to sound advice. Go out and knock on doors, listen to the internal polling, choose a message and stick to it. No, no and no. Even with lots of name recognition, the result is inevitable…they lose.

The media is attempting to paint a picture that big outside GOP money won the race for Greg Gianforte. A lot of outside money was spent on Ryan Zincke’s former seat–it set a record with about $12 million combined inside and outside money spent. But that didn’t win the race for Gianforte. Plenty of money was spent on Democrat Rob Quist, who decidedly lost.

Quist lost because he was not a viable candidate. He was the love child of Arlo Guthrie and Bernie Sanders–a socialist folk singer who appealed to the country liberals up in Big Sky. But he wasn’t going to win with that. In fact, without all the outside money, Quist would have lost even bigger.

He could have been helped by Gianforte’s terrible mauling of reporter Ben Jacobs, but two-thirds of the vote was locked in by mail before Election Day. It’s unclear even if the mail-in vote wasn’t a factor that Gianforte would have lost. Quist was just a non-viable candidate.

In Georgia, another record is about to be set for spending on a Congressional seat. Karen Handel is behind by about 7 points in the polls. Her Democrat opponent, Jon Ossoff, is a nobody supported by millions of Democrat dollars from outside. He should not be ahead, never mind outside the margin of error.

Handel has lost every race she’s run since she was Georgia Secretary of State. For this race, in her own home district, where she’s lived for 25 years, she has kept the same crew that lost her bid for governor, and for the U.S. Senate. They are making the same mistakes they made before. She’s running a poor campaign, which is unfortunate because she’s the better candidate. Not listening to advice, not connecting with voters will lose you the race.

So nothing has changed. It’s not about the outside money. It’s about about the violent Age of Trump. Trump ran a campaign only Trump could run. He was a unique black swan candidate, with 40 years experience selling himself, an incredible relationship with the media (for good or bad), and unsurpassed name recognition. He won because he ran against a terrible candidate who ran a terrible campaign.

Greg Gianforte won because he was a better candidate than Rob Quist, and he ran a fairly good campaign, beating his 2016 bid for governor numbers by 5 to 6 percent in most precincts. If Jon Ossoff wins in Georgia, it’s because he connected with younger voters and had a better message, and ran a more effective campaign than Karen Handel.

Handel may still win, and I hope she does. But ignoring the laws of politics, believing that the Age of Trump has changed everything, is a recipe for losing.


Gianforte Handily Wins Congressional Seat

11:57pm: With 260,715 votes counted, Republicans Greg Gianforte has a lead of 7.7 percent, 20,021 votes ahead of Democrat Rob Quist.

Based on the projections of election day voting, Decision Desk has called the race for Gianforte.

The man who broke Ben Jacobs, uber-liberal reporter for The Guardian and former Democratic activist’s glasses will be the next Congressman from Montana.

Montana Race Too Close To Call

With 45 percent of precincts reporting, the special congressional race in Montana is too close to call. Greg Gianforte (R) currently leads with 47.3 percent of the vote according to CNN. Democrat Rob Quist has 46.9 percent.

The two candidates are separated by less than 1,000 votes and most observers predict a long night ahead for the campaigns.

Gianforte Takes The Lead

At 10:28pm, Decision Desk is receiving results showing Greg Gianforte with a narrow lead, after trailing the early vote counts as county totals come in.

All of the votes counted so far are absentee mail-in ballots.

Democrats Claim Flop Sweat Victory in Montana

The first sign of Democrat panic in Montana is when they claim victory–even if they lose. Results haven’t even begun coming in and the flop-sweat odor is wafting through Democratic offices and friendly media.

From the Washington Post:

A win for the Democrat, cowboy-poet Rob Quist, would give his party its first major victory during the Trump presidency — and deliver a House seat held by Republicans for more than 20 years. A victory for Greg Gianforte, if narrower than President Trump’s 20-point victory last fall, would be spun as fresh evidence of GOP decline.

Gee, we lost, but by less than Hillary did to Trump, so it’s a win! Even with an assault charge and an embarrassing last day for Greg Gianforte, Democrats have their spin machine ready for a big loss.

This is the first sign of their panic.