Caught with pants down, lawmakers deny everything, blame park ranger
A Dakota County sheriff’s deputy allegedly caught two Minnesota lawmakers “making out” in a parked car last week, according to law enforcement reports and court records, but the lawmakers say that accusation is “completely false” and a “lie.”
State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, and Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, were issued citations for causing a nuisance on Aug. 25.
The two, who are married to other people, were in Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan when they were allegedly spotted by the officer ‘making out’ in a parked car about 4:30 p.m., according to documents. The officer’s notes claim Mack was half undressed when he approached the vehicle.
Kelly, 51, and Mack, 32, say none of that is true. Kelly said he had simply met Mack to receive some documents when an officer approached their vehicle about a parking violation.
“When we met, a park ranger approached my vehicle and told me I was double-parked. I disputed his characterization and got out of the car to take a picture. He became visibly agitated and returned to his own car,” Kelly said in a statement to the Pioneer Press. “Approximately ten minutes later, he returned to my vehicle with a parking ticket citing a nuisance. When I asked what that meant, he responded ‘whatever I want it to mean.’”
Mack released a similar statement: “Last week, I received a citation for a nuisance. Subsequently, I have been told the officer wrote in his notes — information that I’ve requested, but has not yet been made public to me — statements that are completely false and inappropriate (and apparently were obtained illegally). I will be filing a complaint with the sheriff’s office regarding the officer’s egregious and false statements.”
Kelly said he met with Mack on his way through town to pick up some documents regarding an Owatonna-based health plan.
According to law enforcement records, the two were cited for misdemeanors and fined. Records show that as of Tuesday, each of the lawmakers still owed $260 in fines.
The lawmakers were cited under a county parks ordinance that declares it unlawful to commit any act “that constitutes a nuisance — defined as anything “injurious to health, or indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.”
There was no citation for exposure — a separate parks ordinance.
In the court’s “register of actions,” the officer’s notes read that Kelly: “was making out with a female in car. When I approached the car the female’s pants were unzipped and pulled down.”
Mack and Kelly say there is no truth to that.
“I’ve since learned the park ranger included false information in his notes, that I understand have now been obtained illegally. What he wrote is an absolute lie and I intend on filing a complaint,” Kelly said.
The Pioneer Press used legal, public means to obtain the documents about the incident. The newspaper obtained the documents through a public court records search on a court-provided computer system.
The Pioneer Press looked at the court documents after receiving a tip. Citations are typically open to the public once they are filed.
Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie said there was nothing unusual about the report and his deputy was not out of line.
“We’re going to agree to disagree,” he said of the lawmakers’ accusations. “The facts will come out as to what the deputy saw.”
Leslie said the deputy was simply enforcing the county ordinance in a busy park.
“We have families and children running around, so we just want to have some decorum there,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
Concerning the details in Mack and Kelly’s statements about the officer’s actions:
“This is what park rangers do. They patrol,” Leslie said. “I have no reasons to doubt the ranger and the facts he’s reporting. I stand behind him 100 percent.”
Both Mack and Kelly were first elected in 2008 and have quickly risen through the House ranks to leadership.
She is the chair of the House’s Health and Human Services Reform committee and he is the chair of the Transportation Policy and Finance committee.