Update: Reps. issue apologies, step down from committee
Reps. Tim Kelly and Tara Mack apologized to law enforcement today. In the latest developments since they called a Dakota County park officer’s report “a lie” that he had found them “making out” in a car, the two also stepped away from their positions on the House Ethics Committee.
“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. 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,” Kelly said Monday.
“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,” his statement concluded.
Mack, who like Kelly took office in 2009, also issued a statement Monday.
“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,” she said.
Officer Jordan Moses ticketed them Aug. 28 under a county park nuisance law. Tipped off Sept. 1 to the citation and a note Moses included on internal justice computer system that stated they were making out and she had her pants partially undone. Kelly and Mack called the officer’s note a lie. They vowed to fight it.
By Sept. 4 the two said the emotional and financial strain on family members of a long legal fight over $260 tickets would cost too much, so they paid the fines.
Rep. Dan Schoen, D-St. Paul, last week said payment wasn’t good enough. The lawmaker, who has 14 years in law enforcement experience, demanded an ethics investigation and apologies.
Speaker Kurt Daudt issued a statement Monday morning that he and House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin met with Kelly and Mack over the weekend. He thanked them for their apologies and said they voluntarily agreed to step down from the Ethics Committee, where Kelly held a seat and Mack was an alternate. Reps. Paul Torkelson and Jenifer Loon will fill those positions.
“If I could go back, I would have handled it differently,” Kelly told the Republican Eagle. “In that light, I think it’s appropriate to step away from that.”
He remains chair of the House Transportation Committee. The debate over funding for roads and bridges will be a major focal point for the 2016 Legislature. Democrats and Republicans agree the state needs to spend billions of dollars more on construction, but they disagreed in the 2015 session over where to get the revenue. Democrats wanted a new gasoline tax while Republicans wanted the money to come from other state programs. Kelly indicated he’s hopeful lawmakers will adopt a strong, long-term plan.