Video: Goodwin Outraged by Senator's 'Idiot' Tweet

On Twitter, Sen. Gretchen Hoffman claimed Goodwin called the mentally ill epithets she actually decried.

UPDATED: State Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-50) lodged an impassioned complaint () on the Minnesota Senate floor after a colleague, Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R-10), misattributed slurs against mentally ill people to her on Twitter.

Hoffman's tweet asserted that Goodwin had called the mentally ill "idiots and imbeciles."

Goodwin was speaking against Republicans' health and human services spending bill Wednesday evening when she made reference to terms like "idiots" and "imbeciles" that the state used to apply to the mentally ill, as well as to others committed to state mental hospitals. (.)

Hoffman tweeted:

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

That message got retweeted by several others, including state Republican Party Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb and state Rep. Kirk Stensrud (R-42A). As of 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, none had deleted the tweet from their Twitter pages. (That has since changed: see 1 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. updates below.)

Goodwin said:

This, even as late as it is, as difficult as these issues are, this goes beyond the pale. This is an ethics violations in my opinion and I expect a public apology. ...

If she didn't hear me say, she better start listening, that the institutions, the state hospitals, used to be called—and it was right on them—the Institutions for Idiots and Imbeciles and the Insane. She totally understood what I said. And you know, this is beyond politics. This is just plain mean-spirited. And I expect an apology and I will file an ethics violation.

And I would suggest, members, from now on, this technology is great and we get information out real fast, but don't ever, ever make statements like this about people that are so false and inaccurate. We have more respect for each other than that.

Goodwin then said she had learned of Brodkorb's retweet. "So I guess that ethics violation goes to two places," she said. She did not mention Stensrud.

Fridley Patch sent requests for comment to Goodwin, Hoffman, Brodkorb and Stensrud late Wednesday.

Goodwin and Hoffman, both first-term senators elected last November, serve together on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Update (12:15 a.m. Thursday): Minnesota Public Radio quotes a statement from Hoffman via a spokesperson:

I look forward to sitting down with Senator Goodwin to discuss my concerns regarding remarks she made on the Senate floor today during a lengthy debate on Health and Human Services finance bill [sic]. Until I have an opportunity to speak with Senator Goodwin directly and share my experiences as a registered nurse, I have no further comment.

Update (1 a.m.): Stensrud has apparently since deleted his retweet of Hoffman. .

Update (10 a.m.): In their comments, Goodwin and Hoffman made reference to their backgrounds working with the mentally ill and as a registered nurse, respectively. Here is detail on that, from their campaign website bios:

Goodwin: "Barb was a Principal Planning Analyst at the Hennepin Children’s Mental Health Collaborative from 1998 to 2002.  She was responsible for coordinating the efforts of  school districts, local government and health care providers to plan programs for youth with mental illness, developmental disabilities and violent behavior."

Hoffman: "Gretchen Hoffman … is a Registered Nurse. … Gretchen has worked in many areas of nursing. A former Cardiac Intensive care nurse, Emergency Room Nurse, staff nurse, and Chemotherapy/Oncology nurse, Gretchen understands the intricacies of providing quality patient care, what it takes to be an advocate for people who are in very stressful times, and the challenges of providing care in an environment of diminishing reimbursement. Gretchen is pro-life and currently volunteers at the local Pro-Life Clinic as a receptionist and Registered Nurse."

Update (10:30 a.m.): Brodkorb has apparently deleted his retweet as well. .

Update (10:45 a.m.): Goodwin responded by email to questions from Fridley Patch about the tweet, Stensrud and Hoffman:

I didn't know about Rep. Stensrud. I don't even know that legislator. The tweet was brought to me by a staff person right after it was sent. Up to this point, my relationship with Gretchen has been cordial.

Stensrud, like Goodwin and Hoffman, is in his first term in his current office. Goodwin, however, also served in the state House from 2001-2007.

She said she'd have further comments "after today."


Other Capitol Clips
Also included in this post are two video clips of other Fridley legislators in action today.

In the House Rules Committee, (DFL-50A) tried to change the proposed Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage so that it also bans divorce ()—a tactic she picked up from Goodwin, who tried the maneuver both and . The ban passed the House committee 13-12.

(DFL-51B) spoke against part of the House K-12 education spending bill, saying that especially in its dire financial condition, the state shouldn't allocate new funding to private schools. (.)

Barb Goodwin May 20, 2011 at 05:29 AM
Chris, Thank you for so fairly reporting the events around Senator Gretchen Hoffman's twitter comments against me. No apology has been made by Senator Hoffman. Senator Ann Rest will be filing the complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee on Friday morning on my behalf and the institution of the state Senate. The Senate Ethics Committee then has 30 days to process the complaint. We are asking the Ethics Committee to have public hearings since the comments were public. The official complaint will be made be public as soon as it is filed. Her comments were not just false accusations against me, public comments like that coming from any state senator are hurtful towards people with mental illness and the people who love them. Actions like this also degrade the state senate as a whole. I want to assure people that this is not typical behavior in the state Senate among people of either party. We strenuously debate the issues, but we don't make personal attacks on each other in our role as Senator. In the past two days, many legislators from both parties came to tell me how inappropriate Senator Hoffman's and Brodkorp's twitter comments were. Thanks again for your report. Senator Barb Goodwin
Avonna Starck May 20, 2011 at 03:20 PM
Chris/Barb, Thank you for standing up for what is right (and wrong)! I can't believe how irresponsible some of these ELECTED OFFICIALS are. I cannot remember a session where I have been so outraged and upset by the behavior of so many of these "public servants". I am so thankful that I live in Fridley and my Senator is willing to stand up and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Why are we Tweeting and fighting over gay marriage when we can't even sort out our budget? I am so tired of distractions and this Republican created drama. They were sent to do a job...I hope the people of Minnesota can see that it isn't getting done! Thank you Barb for focusing on equal rights, jobs, education, the budget and what the people want! Melissa Hortman did an awesome job calling out Sarah Anderson recently, so I must give her a thumbs up, also.
Steve Taylor May 21, 2011 at 01:52 PM
I didn't think it was possible, but Goodwin has a thinner skin than her predecessor. She throws mud with the best of them and when it comes splattering back on her she's quick to run to government and file a complaint. This woman is an embarrassment and not a good representative of her district.
Ed Kohler June 04, 2011 at 03:51 PM
@Steve, as I understand it, Goodwin asked Hoffman to retract and apologize BEFORE filing the ethics complaint. As I understand it, Hoffman refused. So, it could be said that Hoffman's refusal to act like an adult has lead to wasted taxpayer dollars. Put another way, Hoffman created the problem, and could have easily solved it. She chose not to. That's the real embarrassment in this situation.
John Anderson June 05, 2011 at 08:13 PM
This is the problem with our representatives, we don't have an exchange of ideas anymore, just try to catch each other doing stuff. The tweet wasn't productive nor was Goodwin crying about it. Everyone just needs to put their big boy/girl pants on and do their job. This is what politics has decended into. The fault lies with the average voter who doesn't have more than a two minute attention span when making decisions about who is going to represent them.
Ed Kohler June 06, 2011 at 01:22 AM
John, I don't have a problem with big boys/girls pausing to call out inappropriate behavior. Goodwin shouldn't have to tolerate having her words severely twisted by a colleague on Twitter. Better to nip it in the bud. Unfortunately, Hoffman doesn't appear to have the maturity to apologize, which is what's let to this unfortunate distraction dragging on and on.
John Anderson June 06, 2011 at 04:05 PM
@Ed, Goodwin's crying and Hoffman's tweeting is just a distraction for average voters so that they don't realize neither one of them are doing their jobs. As a group our electorate has become so dumbed down that this is all they know; 10 second sound bites about hurt feelings. It's obvious that I'm active with the GOP but this stuff annoys me regardless of party. If we as a society do not start to demand that our representatives start debating ideas and doing the real work of the people our state will continue our slide to destruction. Also you said it's best to nip it in the but then you said it was a distraction dragging on? Which is it, nobody that is on Hoffman's twitter account even remotely likes Barb Goodwin, by demanding the ethics investigation (which is so childlike, read the stuff our founders said about each other) she blew it up into a big issue where it would have just went away. But Goodwin doesn't want to talk about how she has done nothing to get a budget passed so it's best that she distracts everyone with this nonsense.
Ed Kohler June 06, 2011 at 05:24 PM
John, as I mentioned, Hoffman created the problem by making stuff up about Goodwin on Twitter. While many of Hoffman's Twitter followers will be die hard GOP folks who will take Hoffman's lies at face value, she is also followed by member of the press, who should have to wade through lies about Goodwin from Hoffman. They include Politics in Minnesota and Paul Demko. Goodwin was smart to essentially call a time out to tell Hoffman to correct herself and apologize. Hoffman failed to do this, which led to the ongoing issue. I don't blame Goodwin for dragging this out. She has a right to stand up for herself. Sadly, Hoffman doesn't seem to have the maturity to apologize. Hoffman has now mislead her followers about actions on the floor of the Senate and wasted taxpayer dollars. All because she decided to make something up on Twitter about a fellow state senator. Sure, Goodwin could have just let it slide. However, I think it's perfectly reasonable for her to call Hoffman out on her lie. I agree that this stuff is annoying, regardless of party. Which is why I think you should try contacting Hoffman to encourage her resolve this immediately so the state to work on larger issues.
John Anderson June 06, 2011 at 07:22 PM
@Ed, Hoffman isn't my representative, Goodwin is; I'm embarrassed by my representative who cares more about crying about her hurt feelings instead of convincing Dayton agree to a 32 Billion dollar budget and thanking him for vetoing the irresponsible 34 Billion dollar budget that the GOP controlled house put forward. This issue at hand here is whether or not Goodwin is doing the business of the people by her whining or is she just trying to protect her personal image. Stop being a party hack and defending the waste of state time that Goodwin is demanding. I do everything I can to keep my party in check I suggest you do the same and maybe we can get something done in this state.
Ed Kohler June 06, 2011 at 07:40 PM
@John, please try to consider how you'd feel about a "We're going to lie about you and you should sit down, shut up and take it" argument was used against you or your party's candidates. I see that you don't seem to be contesting the facts of the case. As far as I can tell, you are willing to concede that Hoffman broadcasted a lie about a fellow senator from the senate floor which was then retweeted at least twice, including by Michael Brodkorb. Yet you think that broadcasting lies about others (suggesting that a senator was insulting rather than defending the mentally disabled, in this case) is water under the bridge. Sorry man. Hoffman created the mess and is the one who needs to clean it up. Adults call people out on their lies. Children make things up and refuse to apologize when challenged.
John Anderson June 06, 2011 at 07:52 PM
@Ed, I haven't done the research whether it is a lie or not, even if it was 100% true the tweet didn't serve a purpose other than to pander to the dumbed down electorate who vote based on sound bites and three second quips. That's the problem I have with Hoffman (and the voting public). Then my representative, Goodwin wants to make a federal case out of nothing for her own personal political gain. DFLers lie constantly about members on the other side, Goodwin needs to grow up over what amounted to some name calling. Children get sucked into unproductive arguments, adults don't give it any attention. I'm unsure of the type of adult you are but I let children bait me into an argument that is pointless. Let me be clear, I have no power in the DFL so Goodwin doesn't care one little bit about what I think (even though she represents me). However, I do have some influence in the GOP and I will call out members of my own party for doing things that are unproductive for the state. What I am suggesting to you is to try and keep your party in check and keep them focused on the work of the people and I'll do the same. It is the grassroot activists that need to keep their politicians in line, not be apologists for them. Debate important things that affect the people of Minnesota, not who Goodwin calls idiots or not. Frankly, who cares, she can call people anything she wants.
Ed Kohler June 06, 2011 at 08:07 PM
@John, I don't believe Goodwin did what she has done for personal gain. I encourage you to actually read the column above and watch the video. Goodwin is choosing to treat Hoffman not like a child (not get baited in) but as an adult (hold her responsible for her actions). I think you're being dismissive in suggesting that Goodwin can call anyone anything she wants. She was specifically suggesting that it was WRONG to call the mentally disabled retards and idiots. In a case like that, for Hoffman to broadcast that Goodwin was doing the exact opposite of that is utterly irresponsible and deserves to be called out. For example, I'm sure that you're not going to go tweet that I called the mentally disabled retards and idiots after reading the previous paragraph. It's quite clear what I meant. That's exactly what Hoffman did, and failed to apologize for doing after being called out on her idiotic tweet.
John Anderson June 06, 2011 at 08:34 PM
@Ed, I will describe the way this should have gone down. Hoffman: Makes tweet Goodwin: Makes a statement clarifying what she said (conservatives have to do this all the time when the DFL twist words) Done. At this point Hoffman can apologize if she wishes or she can choose not to. People will decide what they want about Hoffman's actions. We have wasted no taxpayer dollars by demanding an ethics investigation which by the way won't do anything to Hoffman. It is however an attempt by Goodwin to get as much publicity as possible over something that does not matter to the people of Minnesota. By the way, who made Goodwin the "word police" and demand certain words are right or wrong. People can use the words they think are the best and they will be judged accordingly. "Idiot" & "Retarded" are that are correct, just because people use them improperly doesn't mean that they are magically incorrect (which was the other problem I had with the tweet). For example I am hard of hearing, I see the term "hearing impaired" used a lot and in the deaf community it is considered an insult. If someone uses the term and I'm in a position to do so I explain that it is considered insulting to deaf people. At that point the person will either stop using or continue to use the term and I will judge them accordingly. This whole issue is stupid (can I use that word, or will it cause hurt feelings?) You however want to keep it going for political gain.
Ed Kohler June 23, 2011 at 04:07 PM
@John, it seems like both Goodwin and Hoffman were acting as word police in this case. Goodwin, by pointing out how words change over time, and Hoffman's false outrage (or intentional misleading tweet) about Goodwin's use of words. Did you see that Hoffman deleted her Twitter account, set up a new one, and tweeted her ethics committee mandated apology from the new account, where she had only three followers at the time? It seems like this attempt to get Hoffman to act like an adult further reinforced that she's not ready to act like one.


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