Schoen: Minnesota reps calling ranger a liar is 'unacceptable'
COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. (KMSP) - Minnesota State Rep. Dan Schoen is calling on Representatives Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing) and Tara Mack (R-Apple Valley) to apologize for accusing a Dakota County park ranger of lying about the lawmakers’ intimate park rendezvous. As a police officer himself, Rep. Schoen (DFL-Cottage Grove) expressed his disappointment in a letter to House Speaker Kurt Daudt.
READ THIS FOR BACKGROUND - Report details lawmakers' rendezvous
Rep. Schoen’s letter to Speaker Daudt
Dear Speaker Daudt,
As you are aware, Representatives Tara Mack and Tim Kelly recently made serious accusations against a law enforcement official via statements provided to various news outlets in response to reports of their having been issued public nuisance citations at Lebanon Hills Regional Park on August 25th of this year.
In her initial statement, Rep. Mack said the sheriff deputy’s report was “completely false.” Rep. Kelly made a similar claim in his statement, saying the officer “included false information” in his notes and said the report is “an absolute lie.” Both said in their statement that they intended to file formal complaints against the officer, which would have provided an opportunity to further investigate these allegations. In press accounts, you stood behind their claims, saying, “We certainly support them.”
Last Friday, both Reps. Mack and Kelly decided to drop their complaints and pay the fines associated with the citations they received. Under Minnesota law, the payment of a citation is equivalent to a guilty plea. Yet neither Rep. Mack nor Rep. Kelly retracted their original statements that the law enforcement officer had filed a false report against them.
Members of the legislature making false claims against law enforcement officials is a serious issue for the Minnesota House of Representatives. 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.
I believe it is important for the institution of the House that Rep. Kelly and Rep. Mack apologize to the law enforcement official, and the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office, for their very serious allegations against them. As you had previously stood behind Rep. Kelly and Mack’s claims, I believe it is important that you also voice your support for the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office official who was simply doing his job.
As you know, I have been a licensed peace officer in the State of Minnesota for 14 years, and I currently represent a portion of Dakota County in the legislature. There are also several members of the legislature who used to work in law enforcement and/or have children and family members who are currently in law enforcement. We know that every day there are police officers and law enforcement officials throughout our state who work hard to uphold the public trust and keep us safe. To allow Rep. Mack and Rep. Kelly’s false claims to go unresolved is unacceptable.
It is important for the credibility of our body that Rep. Mack and Rep. Kelly apologize, and that as Speaker of the House, you address this important issue of public trust. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.
Rep. Dan Schoen