(The Center Square) – After a July 4 traffic stop for driving without a front license plate, it’s unclear whether Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, is a resident of the state or district he represents.
On Tuesday, Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R- Big Lake, requested Secretary of State Steve Simon explain the process for verifying Thompson’s residency when he filed for candidacy last year.
"Minnesotans have a right to know what the Secretary of State did to determine Representative Thompson was eligible to seek office in House District 67A,” Kiffmeyer said in a statement. “The public normally is able to view candidate filings to hold them accountable for living where they are running. In the absence of a public filing, it’s important to know what, if any steps, the Secretary of State took to ensure a candidate using narrow privacy protections actually lived in the district they are required to live in.
Thompson had a Wisconsin driver’s license despite representing Minnesotans.
In a Monday statement, Thompson said he had previously lived in Wisconsin and considered moving back to care for a family member but that person is moving to Minnesota.
“I live and work in St. Paul, and have for many years,” Thompson said. “My Wisconsin license hadn’t previously posed an issue for me, but I will now be changing it to a Minnesota license, as I should have before. During my stop, I was also informed that my license had been suspended for a minor child support issue, one which was resolved long ago. I owe $0 in child support.”
Kiffmeyer wants to change the law, if needed, to ensure candidates are qualified to represent Minnesotans.
“Elected officials are held to a higher standard to maintain the trust of the public, and we need to be sure there is absolutely no favoritism or exceptions being provided for DFL legislators by a DFL Secretary of State,” Kiffmeyer said, asking Simon how he verified Thompson lives in the same district he represents.
Thompson claimed he was racially profiled during a July 4 traffic stop, resulting in Minnesota GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan urging him to release the dashcam footage.
“We call on Rep. John Thompson to allow the body cam footage from his traffic stop to be released by the St. Paul Police Department to give transparency to the situation and issue an apology to the department,” Carnahan said in a press release. “Thompson's vitriolic actions and language last summer in Hugo to the uncertainties of his actual residency need to be addressed, answered and explained. Nobody is above the law and Minnesotans deserve honest representation in the state legislature.”
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said no lawmakers have filed ethics complaints against Thompson yet.
“There is a process in place pursuant to House Rule 6.10 whereby two or more members of the House may file a complaint about conduct by a member that they allege violates a rule or administrative policy of the House, violates accepted norms of House behavior, betrays the public trust, or tends to bring the House into dishonor or disrepute. Such a complaint, if filed, would be referred to the House Ethics Committee. To date, no House members have filed an ethics complaint regarding the allegations made against Representative Thompson.”
However, Hortman said she will work with lawyers to investigate the law and “compare the alleged misconduct to prior allegations of wrongdoing by members of the Minnesota House and the resultant consequences, and act accordingly.”