Minnesota House Democrats voted Tuesday night to expel Rep. John Thompson from their caucus, citing “credible reports of abuse and misconduct” and Thompson’s “failure to take responsibility.”
The extremely rare move had no effect on Thompson, who represents the St. Paul East Side, who is still holding office. Such an attempt to oust him from the House may still come, but Tuesday night’s drama was not like this.
Thompson’s expulsion from the Democratic-Farmer-Labor caucus is on par with his fellow liberals — who control the majority of the House — booting him from their ranks and making it unlikely that he will chair a committee — or perhaps a Will sit on it too – or make a huge impact anytime soon.
In other words, Thompson’s teammates essentially told him: We don’t want you on our team.
Thompson has been under pressure to resign as the top Democrat since the media reported details of past allegations of physical violence against women in July. Thompson, who has never been convicted of domestic abuse, has repeatedly opted not to publicly address the many specifics of the allegations, although he has been disobedient and has refused to step down.
Tuesday night’s caucus meeting took place behind closed doors.
The caucus’ top two Democrats, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, issued the following statement:
“Rep. Thompson’s actions, credible reports of abuse and misconduct, and his failure to take responsibility are unacceptable to a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. It would be best for him to resign for the sake of Representative Thompson, his family, and the institution. Resignation.” In the U.S.’s absence, the Minnesota House DFL has voted to remove Representative Thompson from the caucus.
It appears that Thompson knew this was coming.
On Tuesday morning, he issued a statement via social media that initially referred to his “removal”, although that wording was later removed.
The statement, which ran about a dozen paragraphs long, took on the same themes as his previous statements, emphasizing the difficulties of living as a black man, who only sought advocacy in 2016, calling his friend Philando Castile St. was killed by a police officer.
When it came to specific allegations of violence against two different women, he avoided specifics. Here is an excerpt from his statement:
“At present, some people are saying because of the previous allegations against me that I am not fit to serve on this MLA seat. The fact is, I don’t have a hate bone in my body for anything other than the blatant racism that is being displayed all over the world and some people play as if it doesn’t exist. Allegations of something that allegedly happened to me twenty years ago do not disqualify me from doing my job today. In fact, it only helped me fight harder and change the communities I’m fighting for.
“Have I made some bad decisions in the past? Yes.
“Have I stormed and back? Yes.
“Am I a passionate and outspoken black person? Yes.
“I didn’t run for office to talk about my family or put my past — truth or lie — front and center, but now I have no choice. The fact remains that I promised my wife Was when I ran for office that I would by no means put her in the spotlight when it came to our personal business. We can’t undo this, but we should be looking for additional mental health professionals for our kids. Because they see about us in the media and (spread) on social media outlets.
allegations of violence
Thompson found himself in the limelight on July 4 after he was pulled over for driving without a license and said he was the victim of racial profiling. The most recent political problems have come not from issues related to driving, but from past allegations that he has physically abused several women.
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A review of Minnesota and Wisconsin court records shows that Thompson has never been convicted of domestic abuse. She is listed as arrested, charged or suspected in six incidents involving alleged violence against women in Wisconsin and Minnesota between 2003 and 2011, according to public records located by Pioneer Press.
Many of these cases involve statements made to the police by the legislator’s current wife, Lee Thompson. In an impassioned statement on the steps of the State Capitol in late July, Lee Thompson categorically denied that Thompson ever harmed her, although she only addressed one incident, and she did not respond when asked if two pedestrians. How to reconcile statements from bystanders who told police they saw Thompson hitting her outside a Superior, Wis., grocery in 2003.
Neither she nor Thompson addressed a 2004 Egan police report in which police say she told officers in a recorded statement that Thompson threw her against a table, which broke; that he suppressed her to such an extent that she could not breathe and was close to dying; And that the telephone was destroyed during the final of three attempts he made to call 911. Parts of that account were confirmed by a child who was present, according to the police report.
The police file contains photographs of a woman, images reviewed by Pioneer Press, which show scars at the base of her neck. According to those police reports, Thompson reportedly denied the incidents happened.
But for many lawmakers, such detailed allegations, while unproven in court, have proved untenable for Thompson, a first-time lawmaker who gained a reputation as a Black Lives Matter activist.
Fellow MPs Respond
Many fellow lawmakers of Thompson’s color have been publicly silent since their investigation began. On Tuesday, six of them issued a joint statement not saying whether they supported or opposed the evictions, but spoke about the plight of black families, including domestic violence.
“While we do not condone the allegations relating to Representative Thompson’s actions, this may be an opportunity to find accountability in a way that seeks redemption and change,” the part in the statement read. It Minneapolis Reps. Aisha Gomez, Esther Agbaze, Fu Lee and Hodan Hassan, and St. Paul Reps. Released by Athena Hollins and Jay Jeong. The six colors do not constitute all House MPs.