Senate Ethics Hearing Set on Goodwin Tweet Gripe

The UpTake will carry video as panel airs complaint Monday.

A Minnesota Senate subcommittee will meet at 1:30 p.m. Monday to hear the ethics complaint on behalf of Sen. Barb Goodwin about a colleague's tweet. The UpTake will carry live, streaming video of the hearing.

Goodwin (DFL-50) demanded an apology after Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R-10) May 18 claimed in a Twitter message that Goodwin had applied derogatory terms to mentally ill people during a floor speech:

#Sen Goodwin just called people with mental illness- idiots and imbeciles- while debating HHS bill #offensive #mndfl #mnsrc #mnleg

Goodwin used the terms in reference to what state mental hospitals used to be called—"Institutions for Idiots and Imbeciles and the Insane"—as part of a debate over the state's budget for health and human services.

Hoffman didn't apologize and has not deleted her tweet. (Two others—state Republican Party Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb and state Rep. Kirk Stensrud (R-42A)—retweeted Hoffman's message but later deleted their retweets.)

On May 20, Sen. Ann Rest with the Senate Rules Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct—the same committee that last year scolded Satveer Chaudhary, Goodwin's DFL predecessor as senator from Senate District 50.

Donna Schmitt June 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM
This seems like a waste of time and money. Isn't the fact that there is a government threat of shutdown more important? Aren't 35k + employees and families that will be losing jobs more important than someone getting offended by a stupid Tweet? Schedule this for July 1 and see what happens. Both of them need to be grown-ups.
John Haluska June 10, 2011 at 02:15 PM
It’s fascinating to watch the Tea Party GOP try to change the subject on this. It is clear that Hoffman violated the senate’s ethics rules. It is also clear that even the GOP leadership was appalled by this breach of ethics - immediately after this happened GOP leadership took Hoffman to the woodshed and tried to get her to apologize to no avail. It’s also well known that while Hoffman requested to sit down and resolve this in a discussion with Senator Goodwin, Hoffman was a no-show at that meeting. We have Hoffman caught in an outright lie in a transparent attempt to smear the reputation of Goodwin who, contrary to Hoffman, is respected by both sides for her honesty and integrity. And now we have the typical misdirection from Hoffman’s fellow travellers in the Tea Party who are characterizing this as distraction from important things like the state budget. Hardly! By defending Hoffman’s lie, it’s clear that Schmitt doesn’t care for her either her own or Hoffman’s reputation. While their own reputations may not be worthy of defense, to some of us the defense of a reputation for honesty and integrity such as Barb Goodwin has is not distraction, but is a compelling reason to take this matter to the ethics committee so all can see just how tawdry and unscrupulous the Schmitts and Hoffmans of the Tea Party have made the state’s GOP, and so the people can appreciate the damage the Tea Party GOP is doing to the civility of political discourse in our state.
Donna Schmitt June 10, 2011 at 04:12 PM
John needs to read my comment. I did not defend "Hoffman's lie" as he states. I did state 'both of them need to be grown-ups.' I think Hoffman's tweet was irresponsible, but this whole thing is a waste of taxpayer time and money and they both need to deal with it on their own time. Is it a "misdirection" as Mr. Haluska called it? When there are over 35,000 workers potentially threatened to get a pink slip, I wouldn't call that a distraction. That is something to really be concerned about. Now, Mr. Haluska is calling me "tawdry and unscrupulous"? That may be going a little overboard but I am not going to call an ethics committee for that.
David Troy June 10, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Should we allow our elected officials to tweet, facebook or post publicly any nonsense they want simply because there are more important issues? No. There will always be "more important" subjects. Should a representative tweet deliberate misinterpretation of another representative? No. They should act responsibly and honestly. Should the ethics committee act on this matter? Yes. Hoffman should be sanctioned and if she chooses to not correct her bad behavior, the committee should pursue further actions. Should the 35k employees facing income loss worry about this? Yes. They work for the state and they are represented by a tweet happy liar. The republicans have done nothing but distract the process of state government this entire session and this is yet another attempt to distract the media.
John Anderson June 10, 2011 at 05:17 PM
I've make my position clear on this issue during an impromtu debate with Mr. Kohler in the comments section of http://fridley.patch.com/articles/video-goodwin-outraged-by-senators-idiot-tweet#youtube_video-6138159. I found that debate to be very constructive and productive where Mr. Kohler is able to debate using ideas. This cannot be done with Mr. Haluska who relies on hyperbole, so with him in the conversation the debate on this article cannot possibly be productive.
John Haluska June 10, 2011 at 07:26 PM
It's a shame Schmitt didn't care to read my post. I didn't call her or Hoffman tawdry or unscrupulous, but said that they and their fellow Tea Party types make what was once a respectable part of the Minnesota's political landscape, that is the GOP before they arrived on the scene, tawdry and unscrupulous. As for a Anderson, if a discussion is going to be productive it has to be fact based, something he fails to appreciate. In this case the facts are clear and accepted by all, Hoffman Tweeted what she Tweeted and it was a violation of the rules and she refuses to act appropriately in the face of general disgust with what she did. Whether the ethics committee will do what they should do remains to be seen since their past history suggests otherwise, but the important thing is to make sure Hoffman and her supporters are not allowed a license to lie without being called on it.


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