Fatherhood now an issue in DFL House race

Politics is often the parsing of words. “The definition of is,” for example is political legend.

The definition of “abandoned” occupies center stage in Minnesota politics today.

The quote of the day came early today, thanks to the Duluth News Tribune’s article on the Minnesota House of Representatives candidate whose daughter came forward to say he “abandoned” her years ago.

Leah Simonson, 20, went to the paper to say her birthfather, DFL candidate Erik Simonson, hasn’t seen her in 18 years.

“I wanted him to know that he is so against Gauthier for what he did and his actions — and that’s not OK — but I want him to know that what he did is not OK, either,” said Leah Simonson said.

That brings us to the definition of abandonment and Mr. Simonson’s response:

“That’s not true. I’ve paid my child support,” he told the News Tribune. “To say the word ‘abandoned’ leads people to believe that I didn’t do what I was supposed to do.”

“I’m not understanding why this is an issue now that needs to go to the media, but apparently somebody wants some attention, I guess,” he also said.

Question: Is it anybody’s business?

  • Brent

    Ugh… I have to say that this is the type of thing that is driving me crazy in our world right now…

    I don’t think this is anybody’s business but father and daughter.

  • Jim Shapiro

    To paraphrase Bill Shakespeare: “Does a scumbag by any other name not smell as putrid?”

  • Jim Shapiro

    How could full transparency regarding the personal ethics of those we vote into office to have their salaries paid by taxpayer dollars be a bad thing?

  • MikeB

    Ignoring a child from a previous relationship is a personal matter, but don’t run for office saying what a swell guy you are. And don’t ask people to support you (lining up for a write in vote) without disclosing that your skeletons may disqualify you from holding a public trust.

  • Kassie

    Lots of he said she said here. He says he stopped contact with his daughter as a mutual decision with his ex-wife when they were divorced. He also says he is open to having a relationship with the daughter now. The mother says things happened differently. Divorces are messy. Miscommunications happen. I hope people give him the benefit of the doubt on this and move along. It really isn’t anyone’s business.

  • Jim Shapiro

    He said/she said aside, in what living hell does the “divorce is icky” platitude become a rationalization for the inhumane treatment of children?

    Sorry, I forgot. He paid the money, so he’s under no further obligation to acknowledge his child’s existence.

    This guy’s gonna go far in politics!

  • Kassie

    How is providing for your child’s needs, but not talking to them “inhumane treatment?” It wasn’t like he left her in foster care. The parents made a mutual decision. Both of them. I assume they both had the child in mind when they made that decision. Why aren’t we going after the mother for making the decision to keep the father out of the child’s life? There should be as much weight given to the father’s side as the mother’s side considering he kept up his other responsibilities.

    And his point at the end of the article about him being willing to meet his daughter again: “That would be a personal decision between her and I at this point,” he said. “I just think it’s odd that this is the way she reached out to me.” Damn right it is an odd way to reach out.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Hmm. OK. Let’s start off by assuming that the former wife and daughter are fabricating and that the ex-spouse and non-present father who wants to be a politician is telling the truth. Great.

    But I wonder where some of us good liberals would stand on this if the guy was a Tea Party member instead of a democratic union man?

  • Kassie

    I’m not a democrat, though I am a union woman. I don’t stick up for democrats just because they are democrats. If this was a republican I’d have the same view, assuming he hadn’t issued statements condemning this exact sort of behavior.

    Simonson has never attempted to hide he had this daughter. He has paid all his child support in the open, not under the table. I have no reason to believe he is lying. I also have no reason to believe the mother is lying. It is he said she said, but I’m not going to automatically believe the mother because she is a woman just like I’m not going to automatically believe the father because he is a man.

    As for the daughter, I don’t think she is lying. It is possible that the mother told her the truth. It is possible the the mother lied to her daughter. We don’t know.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Kassie – Looks like we’ve arrived at a good point to do the mutually respectful agree to disagree thing.

    Thanks for playing.


  • BJ

    Sounds like the daughter reached out 2-3 times. He didn’t respond.

    My guess is the GOP have an easy pickup in this district, for 2 years anyway.

  • GT

    As a father whose wife walked out on him and our 3 kids, I have learned that under the legal definition he did not “abandon” his child. This is according to MN law. But what the mother says and what the father says and what the law says are completely irrelevant, what matters is how that child feels, and if she feels abandoned, then she was abandoned.

    Jim Shapiro, I agree with you and Mr. Shakespeare on this one.

  • Joanna

    A child grew up asking herself “how come my daddy doesn’t want me?” That’s cruelty.