For the last month, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana) has been fighting a court order to be fingerprinted and photographed at a Montana jail.
As HuffPost’s Dana Liebelson initially reported, Gianforte hired attorneys William Mercer and Todd Whipple to fight the Justice Court of Gallatin County, Montana’s order to personally appear at the Gallatin County Detention Center to have his fingerprints and mugshot photo taken as a result of his misdemeanor assault conviction. Rep. Gianforte also has to perform 40 hours of mandatory community service, and attend 20 hours of anger management classes.
Gianforte’s attorneys argue that because the Congressman was never formally arrested or indicted, the Justice Court lacks the authority under state statute to compel Gianforte to personally appear for fingerprinting. However, University of Montana law professor Andrew King-Ries told HuffPost that Gianforte’s argument overly relies on “a really narrow section” of state law, and that ordering convicts to appear for fingerprinting is “probably fairly standard operating procedure.”
A day before he was elected to Montana’s lone at-large Congressional seat, Gianforte pleaded guilty to assaulting Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. Gianforte, who was endorsed by First Son Donald Trump Jr., was witnessed by several Fox News reporters body-slamming Jacobs after the journalist asked then-candidate Gianforte about his position on the Republican healthcare proposal.
Jacobs’ glasses were broken as a result of the bodyslam. After news of the assault went viral, a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign was launched to replace Jacobs’ glasses, which has raised more than $7,700 as of this writing. However, Jacobs asked the person who started the campaign to direct all funds to the Committee to Protect Journalists, adding, “protecting journalism is far more important than the state of my spectacles right now.”
HuffPost’s multiple requests to Gianforte, his staff, and his attorneys for comment on why he should be allowed to avoid being fingerprinted and photographed, and if he felt other Montanans should have the same right, were not immediately answered.
Scott Alden covers national politics, education, and environmental issues for Grit Post. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in Inkster, Michigan.