Lawmakers accused of ‘making out’ resign ethics comittee posts
Minnesota state Reps. Tim Kelly and Tara Mack relinquished their positions on the House Ethics Committee on Monday and issued apologies in the latest developments for the embattled lawmakers who an officer says he caught "making out" in a car in ...
Minnesota state Reps. Tim Kelly and Tara Mack relinquished their positions on the House Ethics Committee on Monday and issued apologies in the latest developments for the embattled lawmakers who an officer says he caught “making out” in a car in a Twin Cities park.
The Republican lawmakers originally said they were innocent after being ticketed Aug. 28 at a park in Eagan and claimed the parks officer included false information in his reports. They maintained their innocence, but each paid a $260 fine under a nuisance law, saying it would be best for their families.
“After serious reflection on the last two weeks, I can say that I am disappointed in myself for the way I handled my disagreement with a park ranger,” Kelly, of Red Wing, said in a statement Monday. “I reacted to this in an emotional way and certainly without respect and professionalism. Several of my own family members serve in law enforcement and I have nothing but respect for the entire community. There is a proper way to handle conflicts and as a state representative you should certainly expect me to do so. I apologize to my constituents, to the law enforcement community and to the state of Minnesota.”
Mack, of Apple Valley, released this statement Monday:
“Since becoming a state representative in 2009, I have been a strong supporter of our men and women in law enforcement. I understand that the park ranger was trying to do his job. I have the utmost respect for the work law enforcement does to keep Minnesotans safe and I apologize for offending these great men and women.”
The two lawmakers were in Kelly’s brown Chrysler 300, Park Ranger Jordan Moses indicated. “When I was roughly 20 yards away, I noticed both parties were leaned in toward the center of the car engaged in intimate behavior,” Moses wrote.
The report said Mack’s pants were pulled down to mid-thigh and her underwear was visible.
The lawmakers, who are both married to other people, initially questioned some details of the report.
On Friday, Democratic Rep. Dan Schoen of St. Paul Park wrote to House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, saying more was needed than just paying fines.
“I find it very disappointing that Rep. Mack and Rep. Kelly would try to harm the credibility of this law enforcement official simply to rescue their own,” Schoen wrote.
On Friday, Kelly said he stood by statements that he disagrees with details of the report, although he would not give specifics.
“We simply have a disagreement,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t warrant an apology.”
However, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, and Schoen said the lawmakers’ apologies did not go far enough. Schoen, a longtime police officer currently on leave, said the Republicans should apologize directly to Moses.
Thissen said House members: “continue to express frustration that with Monday’s statement, neither member answers the central question about whether the initial claim that the officer lied was false, or takes responsibility for their actions. That’s what members believe is the central issue and what needs resolution.”
A Democratic House caucus spokesman did not respond to Forum News Service questions about whether members are looking at filing ethics charges against Kelly and Mack.