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Senator acknowledges, but doesn't apologize for, Twitter uproar

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators Updated: May 19, 2011 - 7:09 PM

See update at end

 Late Wednesday night, a tweet from a Republican Senator and a repeat from a staffer gave rise to a complaint of an ethics violation.

"Sen  Goodwin just called people with mental illness- idiots and imbeciles- while debating HHS bill," Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, sent out on Twitter.

But Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, didn't. Instead, she disparagingly read on the Senate floor what people with mental illness used to be called. When informed of the tweet, Goodwin rose to her feet on the Senate floor to complain.

"This goes beyond the Pale. This is an ethics violation in my opinion and I expect a public apology," a shaking Goodwin said "She totally understood what I said....This is beyond politics. This is just plain mean spirited."

About four hours after Goodwin made her public complaint, Hoffman acknowledged -- but did not apologize for -- the upset.

"I look forward to sitting down with Senator Goodwin to discuss my concerns regarding remarks she made on the Senate floor today during a lengthy debate on Health and Human Services finance bill. Until I have an opportunity to speak with Senator Goodwin directly and share my experiences as a registered nurse, I have no further comment,” Hoffman said in a statement.

Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb repeated the tweet from Hoffman but did not provide his own comment on its aftermath, despite an invitation to do so from Hot Dish. 

This is at least the second time messages on Twitter have given rise to a ethics complaint in the Legislature.

Back in 2009, when the 140-character messaging service was still in its infancy Democratic then- Rep. Paul Gardner tweeted  that Republican then-Rep. Tom Emmer appeared to be meaner to women than men on the House floor. Gardner also questioned why Republican (still) Rep. Mark Buesgens was wearing sunglasses and suggested he had a black-eye.

Emmer, who went on to run for governor, and Buesgens filed an ethics complaint against Gardner. After an ethics hearing in the House, then run by Democrats, Gardner issued a public apology and said he "failed" in keeping debate to policies, not personalties.

Here are Hoffman and Brodkorb's tweets:

Here's video of Goodwin's original comments:

 

 

Here's video of Goodwin's complaint on the floor:

 

 

UPDATE:

Republicans Thursday morning released a video of the words from Goodwin that Hoffman "has concerns" about. They say the video Democrats shared edited out the most concerning bits. You can see what Republicans say is the full video here.

 

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