DFL lawmakers condemn GOP senator for golfing during committee meeting

Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska
Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, who is a medical doctor, is facing criticism for participating in a committee meeting remotely from a golf course on Thursday.
Bakst, Brian

Minnesota Democrats are criticizing a Republican state senator for golfing during an online committee hearing.

Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said Republican Sen. Scott Jensen, of Chaska, owes the state an apology for his behavior.

The DFL Party circulated video clips from Thursday’s Health and Human Service Finance and Policy Committee meeting that show Jensen participating remotely from a golf course and sitting in a golf cart. At one point, a fellow committee member in another location, DFL Sen. Jeff Hayden of Minneapolis, asks Jensen how he’s hitting.

Martin said Jensen’s actions are an insult to Minnesotans who have been impacted by COVID-19.

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In a statement Friday, Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, called Jensen’s actions “completely inappropriate.”

“His actions were disrespectful not only to Minnesotans but to all of our Senate colleagues and staff who are working incredibly hard to respond to the public health emergency we are currently in,” Kent said. “It is disappointing that the irresponsible actions of one member could reflect poorly on the entire Senate body.”

Kent said she’s calling on Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, to denounce his actions.

Jensen, who is a medical doctor, has also faced criticism for his views on the coronavirus pandemic, including suggestions that the death toll is inflated.

On Saturday, Jensen said he was participating fully in the hearing despite being at a golf course, including offering two amendments and answering questions about them.

“There were people participating from their deck, their northern cabin, their kitchen cooking dinner,” Jensen said. “I don't have any regrets. I understand the optics. I'm sure people are having a heyday.”

He said he hasn’t heard any criticism from Gazelka or other party leaders for the call.

Jensen is not seeking reelection in November.

MPR News reporters Brian Bakst and David H. Montgomery contributed to this story.