St. Paul City Attorney Sara Grewing said Thursday that her office has declined to file charges against state Rep. Tom Hackbarth, a veteran Republican legislator seen recently with a loaded firearm in the parking lot of the St. Paul office of Planned Parenthood. It was later learned that Hackbarth had not been completely honest with police when they questioned him about the incident.
“It’s extremely disappointing that he was less than clear with the St. Paul Police Department,” Grewing said. “But as far as his actions, they don’t rise to the level of a crime we could prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”
St. Paul police stopped Hackbarth, 58, of Cedar, on Nov. 16, two weeks after he had easily won reelection. Hackbarth told police he had met a woman via an Internet dating service. He said he suspected she was seeing another man and he was in the area to investigate. He also said he was going through a divorce, has a gun permit and always carries the gun.
Hackbarth, who was not arrested but was briefly handcuffed, told police he did not know that he had parked in a Planned Parenthood lot, where a security guard saw him with the gun.
On Dec. 1, however, police were contacted by an anonymous tipster who said Hackbarth, a 16-year House veteran, was being untruthful when he provided the name of the woman he was following. The tipster provided a different woman’s name. Police contacted that woman, who said she knew Hackbarth but did not know why he was in the area that evening. She said she didn’t want to pursue a case against Hackbarth.
The case was turned over to the City Attorney’s office for possible charges on Dec. 2.
The incident cost Hackbarth a key leadership post in the House. He resigned as chairman of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee when the incident came to light. Republicans appointed Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, to replace Hackbarth on the committee. It is still unclear whether Hackbarth will face an ethics probe in the House.