State Rep. Mary Franson has apologized and removed a YouTube video that compared Minnesota’s food stamp program to “feed(ing) the animals.”
It started Friday, when Franson, a first-term Republican from Alexandria, posted a week-in-review video on YouTube. She ran through the news about the new state budget forcast and ended with a plea to end child sexual abuse. In between, at about the two-minute mark, she turned to the welfare reform.
“I'll read you this little funny clip that we got from a friend. It says, 'Isn't it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps, ever.
Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves."
It didn’t take long for the blogosphere to take notice. By 10 p.m. Friday, Franson tweeted an apology: “For those offended at the video, I deeply apologize. I have asked for the video to be taken down ...”
Attempts to reach Franson by phone or email have been unsuccessful so far, but she Tweeted a few thoughts Saturday morning.
“How do you sleep at night?” she Tweeted back to one critic. “I apologized...so why all the fuss? I want ALL people to be successful. Self dependency is part of plan.”
“No, it's not an endorsement of any type. I have asked to have video removed. Sorry for offending you.”
“I am still waiting for [a critic] to apologize to me for pretty much saying my daughter deserved to be bullied. (She's 13)”
And finally: “Because I have a life, I am getting off the Twitter world and experience real life with my children. Going to aerobics with the kids.”
Franson’s comments followed weeks of hearings and bill proposals in the Legislature, aimed at restricting and reducing public assistance in Minnesota.
“Our reform bills are meant to bring people up out of the clutches of poverty. We want to provide a safety net, no longer a safety hammock. In one of the bills Rep. Kurt Daudt authored would reduce the amount of time that you could stay on welfare from five years to three years,” she said in the video. “In three years I believe that we can get Minnesota's poorest of the poor back up on their feet and moving more toward a prosperous future.”
The Alliance for a Better Minnesota has launched a petition drive, demanding that Franson make another video – this one, an apology for her last video.
“These sorts of outrageous and mean-spirited comments have no business being spoken by an elected official in Minnesota,” the group’s statement read. “Mary Franson must be held accountable, using the same methods that she used to blast low-income Minnesotans. Join us in demanding that Rep. Mary Franson post a video to the Minnesota House Republican You Tube Channel apologizing for her hurtful and insensitive comments.”