Shane Scanlon, who served as spokesman to Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont. during a 2017 special election in which the then-candidate assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, has a new role in Montana politics.
He’s now communications director for Matt Rosendale, the state auditor running for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. in November. Scanlon confirmed his position in a call with NBC News.
Scanlon attracted attention for his personal role in the Gianforte story, in which he put out an initial statement blaming Jacobs for the attack, saying he “shoved a recorder in Greg’s face” and “grabbed Greg’s wrist” after the candidate tried to grab his phone recorder, pulling them both to the ground. “It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene,” Scanlon said at the time.
But a Fox News crew who witnessed the scene soon contradicted Scanlon, with one reporter writing that Gianforte “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him” after Jacobs approached him with a question about health care. Audio of the incident revealed Gianforte screaming in rage at Jacobs and telling him to “get the hell out of here.”
Gianforte later apologized to Jacobs and took “full responsibility” for the attack as part of an agreement to settle any civil damages. “Notwithstanding anyone’s statements to the contrary, you did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you,” he said in a letter, an apparent reference to Scanlon’s quote on behalf of his campaign.
Gianforte went on to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault in connection with incident and was sentenced to community service and anger management counseling. Scanlon, however, has never publicly revised his account.
Jacobs, who had previously called Scanlon’s statement “defamatory,” declined to comment on his hire with Rosendale’s campaign. He told NBC News he has had no contact with Scanlon since the assault.