DFL Senator may file complaint over Republican tweet

Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, says she may file an ethics complaint over something Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, wrote on Twitter.

“Sen Goodwin just called people with mental illness- idiots and imbeciles- while debating HHS bill #offensive #mndfl #mnsrc #mnleg”

The only problem is that isn’t what Goodwin said. Goodwin was talking about the history of developmental disabilities and mental illness in Minnesota (Senate Democrats supplied video of Goodwin’s comments) during a debate over the Health and Human Services budget bill.

Goodwin later stood up to demand an apology from Hoffman.

“This goes beyond the pale,” Goodwin said on the Senate floor. “This is an ethics violation in my opinion and I expect a public apology. I have worked with people with mental illness a lot of my life.”

The spokesman for the Senate Republican Caucus, Michael Brodkorb, did not return a message to explain why Hoffman made her initial comments on Twitter. Brodkorb also retweeted Hoffman’s tweet which means his 2,500 followers also read what Hoffman wrote. Update: Hoffman statement below.

This isn’t the first time a lawmaker has gotten in hot water for something written on Twitter. An ethics complaint was filed after then DFL Rep. Paul Gardner wrote tweets about two Republican lawmakers. Gardner later apologized on the House floor for his actions.


Hoffman released this statement through a spokeswoman:

“I look forward to sitting down with Senator Goodwin to discuss my concerns regarding remarks she made on the Senate floor today during a lengthy debate on Health and Human Services finance bill [sic]. Until I have an opportunity to speak with Senator Goodwin directly and share my experiences as a registered nurse, I have no further comment.”

Update: Republicans are putting out video of the comments that they say Hoffman is concerned about. You can watch those partial comments here or the full comments here.

The spokeswoman for Hoffman said she was just “sending along the full remarks” when asked via e-mail whether she was suggesting that Goodwin intended to demean people with mental health problems and disabled people.

  • Wow, what a terrible non-apology “statement” from Sen. Hoffman. How is being a registered nurse pertinent to lying about what a colleague said? Dishonesty and malice are not part of nursing training as far as I’m aware.

  • John

    This is beyond absurd. It’s so obvious what Goodwin meant. Hoffman either wasn’t listening, or is simply clueless. I don’t know what’s worse (especially if you’re going to Tweet about it). Michael Brodkorb needs to apologize too. Ridiculous.

  • Jim

    Last Nov., Minnesota voters got fooled by all the T-Party rhetoric, scare tactics and GOP false promises regarding job creation. Seems like Hoffman is a chip of the old T-Party block. All she would have to do is say that her choice of words were hastily made, but I guess not. When MINN swings back to sanity I hope the remaining GOP folks in the legislature are ready for the blow-back.

  • David G

    How about at least a summary of what part of Sen. Goodwin’s remarks Sen Hoffman says she’s concerned about?

    With no captions, and as a HOH individual, I have no way of telling if there is more to what has already been transcribed (and of which it is abundantly clear that Sen. Goodwin was not doing what Sen Hoffman accuses her of doing).

    This is a major and continuing source of frustration when reporters simply post video like this.

  • RN Andy

    Shame on Hoffman to use good faith and esteem that people have in Nurses in a non-apology for her steaming pile of excrement err I mean tweet. Put down your Twitter device and get the budget passed already.