‘Making out’ lawmakers apologize, quit ethics panel

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, and Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, received citations for “committing an act that constitutes a nuisance” in a public park. Courtesy, Minnesota House of Representatives

Updated 12:30 p.m. | Posted 9:49 a.m.

The two state lawmakers ticketed last month for allegedly making out in a parked car apologized Monday for the comments they made about the Dakota County park ranger who issued the public nuisance citations.

State Reps. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, and Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, had initially claimed the officer’s description of the incident was false. Now, they’re backing away from those claims.

“I understand that the park ranger was trying to do his job,” Mack said in a statement. “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.”

Kelly also issued a statement, in which he apologized to his constituents, the law enforcement community and the state.

“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,” Kelly said. “I reacted to this in an emotional way and certainly without respect and professionalism.”

On Friday, Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Park Park, called on the two to apologize. Schoen, who works as a police officer, claimed Mack and Kelly tried to harm the credibility of the officer to rescue their own credibility

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said Monday that he and House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, spoke with Mack and Kelly over the weekend about the issue and “expressed their concerns” and that he appreciates their statements.

Daudt also said Mack and Kelly voluntarily agreed to step down as members of the House Ethics Committee. That panel could potentially be requested to look into the matter.

Daudt named Reps. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie and Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, as their replacements on the committee.

UPDATE

Rep. Schoen and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, were not satisfied with the apologies.

“While I am glad that Rep. Kelly and Rep. Mack have apologized to the law enforcement community, I repeat my request that they apologize directly to the law enforcement official and Dakota County Sheriff’s Office whose reputations they have tarnished,” Schoen said.

In a separate statement, Thissen said neither Mack nor Kelly answered “the central question about whether the initial claim that the officer lied was false.” He added that the two Republicans also did not take “responsibility for their actions.”