House GOP leaders decided against taking up a motion to expel Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, during today’s special legislative session, even though they openly discussed the possibility for several days.
GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers said the one-day special session didn’t give them enough time to take action. He said Republicans decided against expelling Gauthier because it would be more prudent to hold an Ethics Committee hearing first.
“There is a process to follow,” Zelelrs said. “Just because the acts that were committed were egregious doesn’t mean we would not have due process.”
Zellers renewed his call for Gauthier to resign.
Gauthier skipped the special session and announced earlier this week that he would not run for re-election. Last week Duluth police revealed Gauthier engaged in sexual activity with a 17-year-old boy at a public rest stop near Duluth last month. He was not arrested or charged with a crime.
Democrats applauded Gauthier’s decision to not run for re-election but have stopped short of calling on him to resign. Zellers said his absence from the Capitol during the special session is evidence Gauthier should step down right away.
“The fact that he was not down here today serving his constituents, doing the job he was elected to do, proves that he is not fit to be in office,” Zellers said.
It’s unlikely that lawmakers can take any action to force Gauthier out of the Legislature. An ethics complaint can be filed only during the legislative session, and it’s unlikely lawmakers will meet in session again between now and Jan. 8, 2013, when the next regular session is scheduled to begin.
Gauthier has not responded to messages about whether he would resign. He said he was skipping the special session because he didn’t want to be a distraction.