Tweeting False Info Invites MN Senate Ethics Investigation

Senator Gretchen Hoffman

Minnesota State Senator Barb Goodwin asks for an apology and an ethics investigation after Senator Gretchen Hoffman had tweeted that Goodwin was calling mentally ill people “imbiciles”. Goodwin is also demanding an ethics investigation into Republican staffer Michael Brodkorb who repeated the falsity in another tweet.

Minnesota Senate rules say:

56.2 A member shall not publish or distribute written material if the member knows or has reason to know that the material includes any statement that is false or clearly misleading, concerning a public policy issue or concerning the member’s or another member’s voting record or position on a public policy issue.

Senator Gretchen Hoffman

Senator Gretchen Hoffman (R-Vergas, MN) misquotes Senator Barb Goodwin On Twitter

Senator Hoffman is a first termer from Vergas Minnesota and serves with Senator Goodwin on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her tweet said:
#Sen Goodwin just called people with mental illness- idiots and imbeciles- while debating HHS bill #offensive #mndfl #mnsrc #mnleg
Hoffman has not twittered out a correction or an apology for the false statement. However, Minnesota Public Radio reports a spokeswomen for Hoffman has issued a statement saying Hoffman will not comment until she talks with Goodwin.

Republican Executive Assistant Michael Brodkorb repeated the false statement:
RT @Gretchenmh: #Sen Goodwin just called people with mental illness- idiots and imbeciles- while debating HHS bill #offensive #mndfl #mnsrc

Republican Senator Kirk Stensrud also repeated the same false statement in his twitter account. However, Stensrud later deleted the tweet, but has not issued any statement or apology for repeating the false information.

Brodkorb and Stensrud issued their tweets even after Fridley’s Patch.com site used twitter to point out the inaccuracy of Hoffman’s statement, and used the same hashtags so that anyone who was following the debate on Twitter would be made aware Hoffman’s statement was not true.

If Goodwin decides to file an ethics complaint, she will need to do so while the legislature is in session. The session is scheduled to end next Monday. The Senate Ethics Sub-Committee then has thirty days to either make a finding of no probable cause, defer proceedings, or to launch an investigation. If any Hoffman, Stensrud or Brodkorb were to be found guilty of an ethics violation, there is no criminal penalty. Senate rules say any punishment is “internal”.

What did Goodwin originally say? Watch for yourself.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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