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Conservationists launch anti-Gianforte campaign

FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2017, file photo, Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., speaks during the 2017 Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. A conservationist group is launching an ad campaign against Gianforte that includes a thinly veiled reference to the Montana Republican's attack on a reporter last year. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

A conservation group is launching an ad campaign against U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte that includes a thinly veiled reference to the Montana Republican's attack on a reporter last year.

The new ad by the League of Conservation Voters repeatedly criticizes Gianforte for "attacking" and "assaulting" public lands since he's been in office.

Clayton Elliott is the head of the group's Montana chapter. He said Tuesday that the words "attack" and "assault" were deliberately used because of the gravity of the situation.

Gianforte pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge for attacking Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on the eve of last year's special election for Montana's House seat.

The $244,000 ad campaign that launches Wednesday is the first significant outside group spending in Gianforte's nascent re-election campaign.

Eight people are seeking to unseat him in this fall's election.

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