The Montana Republican Party is facing another scandal over the use of violence to settle political disputes.
“A Billings Republican legislator said Saturday he believes the U.S. Constitution calls for the shooting or jailing of those who identify as socialists,” the Billings Gazette reports.
At a gathering of the state party on Friday, State Rep. Rodney Garcia reportedly said the Constitution requires jailing or shooting socialists during a Q & A with former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
“You know, Montana’s a great state,” Zinke replied.
“We have to do something,” Garcia urged.
On Saturday, Garcia was asked about his remarks.
“So actually in the Constitution of the United States (if) they are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot,” Garcia claimed.
The newspaper noted, “Garcia could not to point to where in the Constitution it says socialists could be shot or jailed.”
In 2017, Greg Gianforte attacked reporter Ben Jacobs for asking a question about health care. He was caught lying to investigators, but was not arrested for obstruction of justice by Sheriff Brian Gootkin, who contributed to Gianforte’s campaign.
The following day, Gianforte was elected to Congress in a special election for the statewide seat left vacant when Zinke was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to lead the Department of the Interior.
Karen Marshall, of the Gallatin County Republican Women, said she would have shot Jacobs for asking a question about the GOP health care bill.
“If that kid had done to me what he did to Greg, I would have shot him,” Marshall told the “Voices of Montana” radio show in 2017.
During the 2018 midterm elections, Trump praised Gianforte for the assault during a campaign rally in Missoula.
Trump admitted, “I shouldn’t say this.”
Gianforte, one of the richest members of Congress and a major donor to conservative causes in Montana, remains in good standing with local Republicans, despite pleading guilty to assault before being sworn into Congress.
In contrast to the response to Gianforte body-slamming a journalist, the state party is distancing itself from Garcia’s comments to fellow Republicans.
“The Montana Republican Party wholeheartedly condemns the comment that was made and under no circumstance is violence against someone with opposing political views acceptable,” according to Spenser Merwin, the MT GOP executive director.
A Billings Republican legislator has said he believes the U.S. Constitution calls for the shooting or jailing of those who identify as socialists. https://t.co/ixrx2E9kOJ
— Billings Gazette (@billingsgazette) February 2, 2020