Posted at 12:46 PM on May 29, 2009
by Tom Scheck
GOP Rep. Mark Buesgens and GOP Rep. Tom Emmer have filed an ethics complaint against DFL Rep. Paul Gardner for comments Gardner made on Twitter. Gardner has deleted his twitter account but in his tweets on May 8th he wrote "Emmer seems to belittle his female colleagues (rage, sarcasm) on the floor more than the men? Great face to the GOP?" and "Why is Buesgens wearing sunglasses? Black eye?"
In the complaint, Emmer and Buesgens wrote:
"Representative Gardner's communications were clearly designed to suggest that his colleagues are physically violent and prone to harassment of female members of the House of Representatives." Representative Gardner knew or, at the very least, should have known that his written comments were false and injurious to his ALL (sic) of his legislative colleagues...."
"...There can be NO dispute that Representative Gardner's actions violate his ethical obligation to treat his legislative colleagues with "respect" and "fairness." Nor can he be said to have exercised "sound judgment" by publishing false statements to the public from the House floor."
The complaint asks that Gardner be properly reprimanded and disciplined.
Gardner did write a formal apology to the entire House floor on May 11th. In an interview, he also said he apologized to the two personally and posted a link to his apology on twitter. He added that "I don't understand how many times that you can say you made a mistake and take ownership for actions and seek a remedy that seems to resolve their actions."
Gardner also suggested that he will provide numerous examples where Emmer has disrespected his DFL members on the House floor:
"I'm not going to make any excuses for my actions but I will point out there has been preponderance of disrespectful behavior demonstrated , in particular by Representative Emmer, over many months. My offensive behavior happened one time, on May 8th, and it has ceased. And if you watch the House floor on a regular basis that you will see that disrespectful behavior against some of my colleagues has been chronic."
Gardner said he didn't think Buesgens disrespected any House members.
Buesgens told me he didn't want to comment until Tuesday's Ethics hearing. Emmer could not be reached to comment.
DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher also could not be reached to comment. A spokesman for DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said the Gardner complaint is in the possession of the House Ethics Committee. He said Kelliher wants that process to move forward without any comment from her.
If the general public regularly listened to Rep. Emmer's comments on the House floor they may see things differently. "Respect", "Fairness" and "sound judgement" aren't clearly apparent to me.
If legislators really thought about it, they would realize Twitter is much more of a liability then an asset.
I've heard so much meanness and snideness and disingenuousness come out of the mouths of Republicans on the House floor and elsewhere that I can't believe these two really could be hurt by what Gardner wrote. Republicans are such slick experts at bullying that they often get away with saying and doing worse things.
The first thing Gardner wrote about Emmer belittling women was a perfectly legitimate comment to make. He has the right to express such an opinion. The second thing about the black eye was not ok, but was still mild compared with the things Republicans often say.
Tempest in a teapot... Pubes have nothing better to do. Whoops, was that disrespectful?
As someone who watches House floor sessions quite often, I've gotta say that if the media is going to be treating Gardner's twitter posts as a scandal, they might also want to do a story on Emmer's rageaholic tirades against his colleagues that prompted Gardner's comments. For the past five years the media has been either ignoring Emmer's behavior or treating it like a cute little personality quirk.
Four comments - four folks who don't address the childish behavior from Gardner but rather choose to parrot him.