Minnesota House speaker defers action on Rep. John Thompson | KSTP.com

Minnesota House speaker defers action on Rep. John Thompson

Minnesota House speaker defers action on Rep. John Thompson Photo: KSTP.

The Associated Press
Created: July 21, 2021 03:04 PM

Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman told her chamber’s top Republican on Wednesday that she’s not planning any immediate action against Rep. John Thompson despite a GOP threat to file ethics complaints against the embattled St. Paul lawmaker.

Hortman, Gov. Tim Walz and other top Democrats called on Thompson to resign amid reports of domestic abuse allegations against Thompson from 2003 to 2010. One of those incidents led to charges. Thompson has denied the allegations through his attorney, who disputes the authenticity of the police reports cited by media outlets.

Thompson, a Democrat, has been outspoken on police accountability since winning election last year. He became an activist after his friend Philando Castile was shot to death by an officer in 2016. He’s currently on trial over a 2019 misdemeanor charge of obstructing police during an incident at a suburban Minneapolis hospital before he took office. His unraveling began after he was ticketed earlier this month for driving on a suspended license that raised unresolved questions about whether he really lives in his St. Paul district. His attorney has said Thompson resides there.

Speaker Hortman told GOP House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt in a letter Wednesday that she would refer any complaint to the House Ethics Committee, but that in the absence of an ethics complaint she won’t take action until after court proceedings against Thompson on the other matters conclude. She said speakers generally don’t personally direct ethics complaints.

Daudt told Hortman in a letter Monday that House Republicans were prepared to file ethics complaints against Thompson if she didn’t act herself. He said in a statement Wednesday that he had been hoping for a stronger response.

“I’m disappointed in Speaker Hortman’s inaction,” Daudt said. “The demands for Rep. Thompson’s resignation from Speaker Hortman and the (Democratic) majority ring hollow when they refuse to take any steps to hold him accountable. We are reviewing Speaker Hortman’s letter and will be preparing a response.”

The Ethics Committee was already scheduled to meet Friday to consider a different complaint against Thompson. GOP Rep. Eric Lucero filed it late last month after Thompson, during a contentious floor debate, denounced Lucero by saying: “I know you’re a racist.” GOP lawmakers allege Thompson violated House decorum rules.

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