Lawmaker removed from committees after drunken arrest last spring

State Rep. Matt Grossell
State Rep. Matt Grossell.
Minnesota House of Representatives photo

A Minnesota lawmaker who ran afoul of the law last spring lost his seats Wednesday on two legislative committees that deal with law enforcement issues.

Police arrested and cited Rep. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook, for disorderly conduct and trespassing on May 4 following drunken altercations at a St. Paul hotel and a nearby hospital.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL- Brooklyn Park, notified Grossell Wednesday that he is no longer on the judiciary and public safety committees.

Hortman said the behavior described in police reports conflicts with the expectations of the House, specifically noting that police reports said Grossell stated he was “in the House of Representatives” and “a retired police officer” as he confronted people during the altercations and said there would be “hell to pay” if he were arrested.

“When someone seeks to use the fact that they are a state representative to secure special treatment, that warrants a reaction from the institution,” Hortman said.

She made the decision after reviewing cases of past member misconduct, alcohol-related violations of the law and ethics complaints, Hortman said.

Grossell, a retired Clearwater County sheriff’s deputy and former Blackduck police chief, agreed to enter a court diversion program.

"I have worked since the night of the incident to personally apologize to those involved, make amends and complete the legal process,” Grossell said in a statement. “Despite Speaker Hortman's efforts to remove law enforcement voices from the public safety committee, I will continue to focus on efforts to make our communities safer and support the men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line each day to protect Minnesotans."

Hortman’s move brought a sharper response from House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, who noted that Grossell had more than 12 years of law enforcement experience, was shot in the line of duty and has suffered permanent health consequences as a result.

"This is the latest example of House Democrats' outright hostility for law enforcement,” Daudt said. “They denigrate the work of our men and women in uniform, endorse dangerous ideas like disarming officers, and allow Democrat staff to call police ‘a dangerous and corrupt gang’ without consequence. Democrats demand leniency for felons and criminals, but do not afford the same courtesy to someone who made a mistake and has spent his career serving the people of Minnesota. Speaker Hortman's decision — three months after the incident — is clearly politically motivated."

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