A Republican state representative under scrutinty for her behavior with a fellow GOP lawmaker in a public park said Thursday that she wants to put the controversy behind her and get back to work.
"It's been a really difficult couple of weeks for me and my family," Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, told reporters after a legislative hearing in St. Paul. The other lawmaker in question, Rep. Tim Kelly of Red Wing, was not at the hearing and did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
"I'm at work, I'm doing my job representing my constituents and doing work for the state of Minnesota," Mack said.
Mack and Kelly were ticketed for public nuisance last month by a Dakota County park ranger who found their cars parked unusually close to each other at an Eagan Park. The officer noted in his report that the two were "making out." Both are married to other people.
In initial media coverage of the ticket, Mack and Kelly denied the park ranger's version of events and said they would fight the ticket. They later changed course and paid the fine, but continued to take issue with the ranger's version of events. Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie has supported the officer.
After House Democrats complained that Kelly and Mack had defamed the ranger's reputation, the two lawmakers issued an apology to law enforcement in general but not the specific ranger. DFLers complained the apology was insufficient. Mack responded Thursday that the ranger is a member of law enforcement, but also said she continues to dispute some of what he claims.
"I have apologized to law enforcement, I have paid the citation and I am focused on moving forward," Mack said.
Earlier in the morning, GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he viewed the apologies as sufficient. He called Mack and Kelly well-respected lawmakers and said neither would be removed from House committee chairmanships they currently hold. Mack and Kelly did both step down from the House Ethics Committee over the incident.
"This is really something that happened outside the scope of their role here at the Legislature," Daudt said. "It's an unfortunate situation, they have apologized for that and it's time to move on."