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Rep. Mary Franson need not resign over ‘feeding’ comments, House leaders agree

“She’s apologized back home to her constituents. I think that’s good enough for me, and I stand by her,” said House Speaker Kurt Zellers.

The House leaders of both parties say they don’t think GOP Rep. Mary Franson should resign over her recent comments that some found offensive.

Franson, who later apologized, does not need to step down, agreed House Speaker Kurt Zellers and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen.

Earlier this week, the Welfare Rights Committee and other advocates said the Alexandria legislator should quit because of comments she relayed last week in a legislative briefing video to constituents.

“People make mistakes. Sometimes they end up on video, now more than ever,” Zellers said. “She’s apologized. She’s apologized back home to her constituents. I think that’s good enough for me, and I stand by her.”

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In the video to constituents in District 11B, Franson compared state assistance for the poor with feeding animals:

 “I’ll read you this little funny clip that we got from a friend. It says, ‘Isn’t it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps, ever. Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.”

The video, which was later deleted, incited several liberal bloggers to seize onto the video.

Franson last Friday tweeted this apology: “For those offended at the video, I deeply apologize. I have asked for the video to be taken down.”

She also tweeted photos of some negative emails she received that were filled with vulgar and offensive messages.

“Sorry for offending people with the comments on the video but death threats via fake email addresses to me and my family are over the top,” she wrote last Saturday.

Also on Thursday, a tweet from Franson’s account (she later wrote that her treasurer sent it) encouraged people to donate to the campaign, writing: “Please donate … The War on Women has come to MN.”

Thissen, who said he hasn’t talked to his caucus about filing an ethics complaint, said on Friday that appealing for money was the wrong move.

“She is going out there pretending that she is actually the victim in some sense and raising money off of this, so it’s just the classic politician’s move,” he said.

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He also included a jab when agreeing with Zellers that Franson need not step down.

“No, I don’t think she needs to resign,” he said. “I think the voters will say something about that come November.”