Apology will resolve ethics complaint against Thompson

People at microphones at the Minnesota Capitol
Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul stood outside the state Capitol with his wife, children and other supporters on Monday.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News

An ethics complaint against Rep. John Thompson was dismissed Friday after Thompson agreed to make a public apology to Rep. Eric Lucero, R-Dayton.

The complaint filed last month contended that Thompson made a “slanderous outburst” toward Lucero when he said, “I know you’re a racist” during a House special session debate. Lucero, who is Latino, claimed Thompson, who is Black, impugned his character and brought dishonor and disrepute to the House.

Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, the ethics committee chair, said both legislators agreed to waive further proceedings after an alternative resolution was reached.

"This apology will happen when the House of Representative next reconvenes," Davnie said.  

Lucero made his case last week to the panel of two Democrats and two Republicans, but Davnie delayed the probable cause hearing to allow Thompson time to have his attorney present.

Thompson said he accepted the agreement and made no further remarks. Lucero also stated his acceptance.

Rep. Sondra Erickson, R- Princeton, said there were lengthy discussions with Lucero and Thompson's attorney about the alternative resolution. 

Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said he was pleased with the outcome.

"This is not a court of law, but really a committee that is here to maintain the integrity of the Minnesota House of Representatives,” Torkelson said. “And we can do that when we get along."

Thompson is also facing other issues related to his conduct that are unrelated to the Lucero complaint. There are lingering questions about his residency and past allegations of domestic abuse. 

Gov. Tim Walz, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, and other Democrats have called for Thompson to resign his legislative seat. So far no one has filed an ethics complaint on the other issues, and Thompson has said he will not resign. 

If the hearing on the Lucero complaint had moved forward, lawmakers would have needed a majority vote to determine whether any disciplinary action was warranted. House rules allow for the ethics committee to recommend expulsion, censure or reprimand.

Davnie thanked both lawmakers for resolving the matter another way.

"Apologizing isn't always easy, and you've done that, and I thank you for that," Davnie said. 

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