The House Ethics Committee has found no probable cause to move forward regarding an ethics complaint brought against Rep. Paul Gardner (DFL-Shoreview). (Listen to the meeting.)
The allegations from Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delano) and Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan) stem from two messages Gardner posted May 8 on Twitter during a heated House floor debate on the omnibus tax bill.
In one post, Gardner questioned the reason for Buesgens wearing sunglasses in the House Chamber. “Black eye?” he wrote. He also posted: “Emmer seems to belittle his female colleagues (rage, sarcasm) on the floor more than the men."
Gardner sent Emmer and Buesgens a letter apologizing for his “disparaging” messages, closed down his Twitter account and posted his apology on his Web site. This was an appropriate response to the level of violation to the House standard of decorum, he said.
After a closed-door meeting, the committee recommended unanimously that Gardner make an oral apology to the House “at the earliest possible date.” The statement goes on to say, Gardner “did not exercise sound judgment by making statements about his colleagues that were not respectful and courteous and he did now show respect to the House of Representatives.”
Although voting with the committee’s recommendation, Rep. Steve Smith (R-Mound) concluded that “a violation of code of conduct” had occurred and that the ethics process should move forward.
Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) said this is a discussion of proportionality and that “we are not here to be speech police,” but that members should treat each other with respect and dignity.
The decision of the committee does not preclude reconsideration of the complaint if needed.