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Legislators cited for making out in park issue apologies and step down from House ethics committee

State Reps. Tara Mack and Tim Kelly had challenged the citation issued by a park ranger; now they apologize for the way they acted towards the officer. DFL House leader Paul Thissen says it’s not enough.

New statements today from state Reps. Tara Mack and Tim Kelly, the couple cited for making out in a parked car.

At first, the two Republicans, who are married to others, denied the allegation and challenged the park ranger’s version of the story. They said they’d just met up to exchange documents. Today, they both apologize to the law enforcement community for the way they handled the affair.

And House Speaker Kurt Daudt said that he talked with the two this weekend and that both have “voluntarily agreed to step down from the Ethics Committee.”

Mack’s statement:

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Since becoming a State Representative in 2009, I have been a strong supporter of our men and women in law enforcement. I understand that the Park Ranger was trying to do his job. I have the utmost respect for the work law enforcement does to keep Minnesotans safe and I apologize for offending these great men and women.

Kelly’s statement:

After serious reflection on the last two weeks, I can say that I am disappointed in myself for the way I handled my disagreement with a park ranger. I reacted to this in an emotional way and certainly without respect and professionalism. Several of my own family members serve in law enforcement and I have nothing but respect for the entire community. There is a proper way to handle conflicts and as a state representative you should certainly expect me to do so. I apologize to my constituents, to the law enforcement community and to the state of Minnesota.

Daudt said he’s appointed Republican Reps. Paul Torkelson and Jenifer Loon to take the Mack and Kelly spots on the Ethics Committee.

House DFL Leader Paul Thissen, though, said today that many House members say the statements and removal are not enough:

I have had several members contact me to express concern that Rep. Kelly and Rep. Mack made what increasingly appear to be false claims against law enforcement officials. They continue to express frustration that with today’s statement, neither member answers the central question about whether the initial claim that the officer lied was false, or takes responsibility for their actions. That’s what members believe is the central issue and what needs resolution.