A state senator who will have an ethics complaint against her dropped if she deletes the tweet, tweets a link and apologizes.
That was the decision that a Senate panel reached Monday evening after five and half hours of testimony and debate that often tested the four panel-members' patience—and their understanding of Twitter.
At issue was a May 18 tweet and a later press statement from Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R-10) in which she said Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-50) had referred to mentally ill people as "idiots and imbeciles" in a Senate-floor speech about health and human services funding.
In her speech, Goodwin used those terms, as well as "the insane," to describe how the names of state institutions formerly referred to patients who were mentally ill or developmentally disabled or had other disabilities.
The two Republicans and two DFLers on the subcommittee reached consensus only after hours of grueling debate and dueling proposals for how to deal with Hoffman.
In the end, the panel unanimously approved a resolution that dismisses the (DFL-45)—if Hoffman:
- apologizes in writing to Goodwin;
- deletes her original tweet; and
- posts a link on Twitter to the subcommittee's resolution, with a (necessarily) brief explanation.
The subcommittee's chair, Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-14), will determine if Hoffman has complied with the three conditions.
In a brief press conference after the hearing Goodwin, who represents part of Fridley and was present at the hearing, expressed satisfaction with the ethics panel's action.
Hoffman was also present but like Goodwin did not testify. Representing Hoffman was attorney Fritz Knaak, who also serves the City of Fridley as city attorney.
Knaak said Hoffman had heard all of Goodwin's speech, was offended by her use of the disparaging terms, and put her name in a queue to speak but wasn't given the chance before debate ended.