GOP lawmakers countered Gov. Mark Dayton's criticism of the "political gamesmanship" he claims influenced a Wednesday order to suspend future discharges from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said in a statement that despite the move, Dayton "continues to recklessly disregard the safety of Minnesotans by supporting the release of serial rapist Thomas Duvall."

Dayton's camp has maintained the governor never supported Duvall's release but backed Department of Human Services commissioner Lucinda Jesson's position not to oppose it.

Zellers' words were the latest in a back-and-forth between the two. Zellers last week called a board's recommendation to release Duvall from MSOP wrongheaded and dangerous Dayton's staff countered that Zellers, a former House speaker and gubernatorial candidate, failed to address MSOP issues as Speaker legislators.

In his own statement, House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, cited a letter he sent last month to Reps. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, and Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, who serve on the House Health and Human Services Policy and Finance Committees. The letter asked for help in developing a bipartisan solution to MSOP. Thissen said he hadn't yet received a response, but that "I take them at their word they are interested" working across the aisle.

In a joint statement, neither Mack or Zerwas addressed Thissen's request but expressed concern that Dayton "reaffirmed his support for the release of Thomas Duvall and other sex offenders."

Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, lauded the governor's decision, which also included halting transfers of MSOP offenders to a less-secure facility in his city.

"While Gov. Dayton expressed his concern with legislators providing input on MSOP, I would kindly remind the Governor that as representatives of the people, lawmakers ought to be more thoroughly consulted on issues like this program in the future." Johnson said.

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