Gov. Tim Walz on Monday again insisted that state Rep. John Thompson resign over reports of multiple domestic violence accusations as House DFL leaders considered what to do about the lawmaker's refusal to step down.
Police reports from three departments detail five domestic assault cases, some that took place in front of children, from 2003-11. Walz said the allegations have rendered the freshman DFL lawmaker from St. Paul no longer fit to serve.
"We all make transgressions in our lives, but I just want to be clear, the information over the weekend involving multiple accusations, cases of domestic violence in front of children just makes it to where I cannot believe that the representative can continue to serve us well," Walz told reporters after visiting a Lake Elmo middle school as part of a tour touting Minnesota's two-year education budget.
The police reports first obtained and reported by Fox 9 detail multiple arrests of Thompson after he was accused of domestic violence in Eagan, St. Paul and Superior, Wis. The Star Tribune has since obtained the reports through records requests. Multiple cases involve allegations of punching and choking, at times in front of children and other relatives. Thompson denies the allegations.
The most recent case involves a previously unreported arrest in May 2011 in St. Paul. In that case, Thompson's girlfriend, who later became his wife, told police that he tried to pull her from a car before she fell on a door jamb and that he also struck her mother.
According to the St. Paul police report, the woman said she believed Thompson would "seriously injure her because he has done it before." She told police that he threatened her "every six to eight weeks" and that she was most frightened by him when in 2003 he allegedly gave her a concussion. The woman said she did not cooperate with authorities at the time, and charges were not filed. Thompson also was not charged in connection with the May 2011 arrest.
The woman told police at the time that the two had been together for 12 years, had two children together and that Thompson had two children from a prior relationship. She and Thompson married in February 2020, according to public marriage records. She could not be reached for comment but posted on Facebook that she felt as if her family and husband were under attack.
The allegations added to a nearly two-week period in which top DFL elected officials had been pressured to respond after Thompson accused a St. Paul officer of racially profiling him when he pulled Thompson over July 4 for not having a front license plate on his car. Thompson was cited for driving under suspension and was found to have a Wisconsin driver's license but not one issued by Minnesota.
Jordan Kushner, Thompson's attorney, said in a statement Sunday that the lawmaker "maintains the allegations are false and he was never found guilty of them in a court." He said Thompson "challenges the authenticity of the police reports that have been circulated to the press" and that he and his wife, the only person he would have been with at the time, deny the allegations. He said the reports likely were circulated by law enforcement groups engaged in a "smear campaign" against Thompson.
Yet Walz said Monday that he had no reason to dispute the accuracy of the reports.
"I think it would be very unusual for three different police departments stretching over a decade to fabricate information," he said. "I would assume that these are as represented to us."
The governor said "one representative's personal life choices" have come to overshadow attention to the state's ongoing recovery from COVID-19, a looming drought and issues of racism and public safety.
Walz would not prescribe any actions he would like to see from the Legislature in response to Thompson's refusal to resign. "I would just encourage them to follow through," he said.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler and Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent are among the DFL leaders calling for Thompson's resignation.
A hearing is scheduled for Friday on a separate ethics complaint from House Republicans stemming from an incident in which Thompson called Rep. Eric Lucero, R-Dayton, racist on the floor of the House.
House Republicans said over the weekend that they planned to file additional complaints against Thompson after the domestic abuse allegations, but on Monday, Minority Leader Kurt Daudt instead sent a letter to Hortman asking the DFL caucus to outline how it plans to respond.
"Rep. Thompson's refusal to resign demands action by House Democrat[ic] leadership, and we are calling on Speaker Hortman to outline for the public what actions her office plans to take," Daudt said in a statement. A DFL spokesman said Hortman is meeting with counsel to determine next steps.
Either party could file an ethics complaint against Thompson on the grounds that he violated accepted norms of House behavior, betrayed the public trust, or behaved in a way that brings the chamber "into dishonor or disrepute," according to internal rules.
The House Ethics Committee, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, could recommend expulsion to the full chamber, which would require a two-thirds vote. Leadership also could remove Thompson from the DFL caucus and strip him of committee positions and staff.
Staff writers Briana Bierschbach and Jessie Van Berkel contributed to this report.