It is rare that a governor, state House speaker and chairman of one's own party would demand the resignation of a legislator. Yet such is the case with Minnesota Rep. John Thompson, whose accusation that he was racially profiled by St. Paul police has snowballed into revelations that he has been accused of domestic abuse.
Police reports show that Thompson was accused on several occasions of choking and punching a female companion, including an incident in which the victim's 5-year-old daughter was said to be an eyewitness. He's also accused of exposing his genitals to female acquaintances while young children were present.
Gov. Tim Walz over the weekend tweeted that "Minnesotans deserve representatives who uphold the highest moral character and share our values. Following the deeply disturbing reports of domestic violence against multiple women, Rep. Thompson can no longer effectively be that leader and should immediately resign."
Thompson indeed should promptly resign. Instead, he is clinging to office and questioning the authenticity of police records that stretch back nearly 20 years in two states.
Thompson, who has held a Wisconsin driver's license for 20 years and who declined to make his address public on his campaign filings, has yet to prove which state he in fact resides in. Wisconsin requires that its driver's license holders attest under penalty of perjury that they live in the state. Minnesota, obviously, requires that its lawmakers reside here. Thompson's legislative bio offers only a P.O. box in St. Paul.
Thompson proved problematic as a candidate. He hung on to his party endorsement even after displaying a shocking lack of judgment at a protest in Hugo last year when he told the crowd, "You think we give a f--- about burning Hugo down?" and was seen hitting effigies of then-Minneapolis police union head Bob Kroll and his wife, television news anchor Liz Collin. The protest was held in front of the couple's home.
Thompson got so far in arrears on child support that his driving privileges were suspended in Minnesota, a situation that also came to light during the July 4 stop that led him to accuse a St. Paul police officer of profiling. Thompson also is currently on trial for a 2019 misdemeanor charge of obstructing the legal process for his actions at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale during a visit that got out of control.
DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman is considering what steps to take should Thompson continue to refuse to step down. Expelling Thompson would require a two-thirds vote of the House. That is drastic move and not to be taken lightly.
But Walz is correct when he says that Thompson, facing bipartisan calls to resign, has lost his ability to be an effective legislator. Holding office is a privilege. Thompson has forfeited that privilege through his own actions. St. Paul's East Side residents deserve a representative who can work effectively on their behalf.