A rare House ethics hearing over allegations against state Rep. John Thompson was postponed Friday so that the embattled St. Paul Democrat can have a lawyer present when the committee reconvenes, likely next week.
The complaint stemmed from a June 19 floor debate in which Thompson interrupted Rep. Eric Lucero, R-Dayton, twice calling him a racist.
"John Thompson is a disgrace to this institution," Lucero told the committee on Friday.
Committee Chair Jim Davnie, a DFL representative from Minneapolis, granted Thompson's request to postpone his own remarks until he can have a lawyer with him. Lucero was allowed to give his own sharply worded presentation Friday outlining his reason for bringing the complaint. Friday's meeting was the first probable cause hearing on a House ethics complaint since 2015, said Davnie, who noted that such complaints are "extremely rare."
Davnie sought to keep the hearing focused on the June complaint, but Lucero also briefly referenced the numerous controversies that have embroiled Thompson this month, including the surfacing of multiple domestic violence accusations that have led to calls from Democrats and Republicans alike for Thompson's resignation.
Lucero said the new allegations "far outweigh the scope of this specific ethics complaint" but later added that Thompson's June comments created a "hostile work environment" and brought "absolute dishonor and disrepute" to the House. In the June incident, Lucero was speaking in support of law enforcement and families of officers who have been killed. He referenced Thompson's protest at the home of former Minneapolis police union president Bob Kroll, and Thompson interrupted him with remarks that included twice saying, "I know you're a racist."
Before asking to postpone his own comments, Thompson told Davnie that "these are waters I've never been in before."
Thompson refused calls last week for him to step down. House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said she would wait until court proceedings related to his July 4 traffic stop, which Thompson called "racial profiling," conclude before taking further action.
Thompson was also convicted this week of misdemeanor charges related to a 2019 disturbance at North Memorial Health Hospital. He told reporters after the verdict that he would get back to the media later with a decision on his future.
Stephen Montemayor • 612-673-1755