Greg Gianforte, the Republican who body-slammed Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs on the eve of Montana's special election last month, has apologized with words and money. He has agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists in a deal that will avoid a civil lawsuit, Guardian reports. "My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful," Gianforte wrote in a letter to Jacobs, adding: "I made a mistake and humbly ask for your forgiveness." In the letter, Gianforte also confirms that Jacobs "did not initiate any physical contact," contradicting claims made by his campaign, the Independent Record reports.
The New York-based CPJ is a nonprofit that fights to protect press freedom and the rights of journalists. "I hope the constructive resolution of this incident reinforces for all the importance of respecting the freedom of the press and the First Amendment and encourages more civil and thoughtful discourse in our country," said Jacobs, who will not be receiving any money under the settlement. Gianforte won the election for Montana's only US House seat despite being charged with assault, possibly helped by the fact that an estimated two-thirds of voters cast their ballots before the incident. The Republican still faces a criminal case and could be punished with up to six months in jail or a fine of $500.