Republican State Rep. Tom Hackbarth has been stripped of his leadership duties – at least temporarily – after an incident last week in which police confronted the legislator after he parked in a St. Paul Planned Parenthood lot and was seen with a handgun.
“Due to an incident on Tuesday, November 16, State Representative Tom Hackbarth has been suspended from any current and pending leadership roles within the House GOP Caucus,” House Speaker-designate Kurt Zellers said in a statement. “The suspension will remain in effect until the issue is fully resolved.”
Hackbarth was slated to become chairman of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee when the Legislature convenes in January. Zellers did not announce who will step in to fill that role.
Hackbarth, 58, said in an earlier Star Tribune report that it was a misunderstanding when he parked his car in the Planned Parenthood lot in Highland Park.
When St. Paul police confronted Hackbarth, they ordered him out of his car at gunpoint and handcuffed and questioned him.
Hackbarth, who has a conceal-and-carry permit, was not arrested or charged.
Hackbarth told police he was trying to find a woman he met through an Internet dating service. He said he was not familiar with the Highland Park area and didn’t know he pulled into the Planned Parenthood lot.
He had reportedly asked the woman to dinner that night, but she told him that she had previously agreed to meet with a female friend in Highland Park. He suspected she was meeting another man instead, so he came to the area to look for her.
When he didn't see the woman's car, he returned to his truck and left. That's when police caught up with him.
Hackbarth said he is in the process of divorcing his wife of 25 years. The Cedar resident just won re-election for an eighth term representing Elk River, Oak Grove and East Bethel.