GOP ‘Make-Out’ Scandal Brews in Minnesota

     MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – A Republican lawmaker made her first public appearance Thursday since a local news outlet reported that she and a fellow legislator tried to cover up their apparent affair by falsely accusing a police officer of lying.
     The controversy erupted earlier this month when the Pioneer Press published nuisance citations given to Reps. Tara Mack and Tim Kelly a week earlier.
     A Dakota County sheriff’s deputy who claimed to have caught the pair “making out” in Lebanon Hills Regional Park wrote in his notes that “the female’s pants were unzipped and pulled down,” according to court records.
     Mack, 32, and Kelly, 51, are both married to other people and have children.
     Mack represents Apple Valley, and Kelly represents Red Wing.
     Though the legislators reacted to the reports by saying that the officer’s statements were “completely false” and “a lie,” they later withdrew their threats to file complaints against him.
     Mack and Kelley have since both paid $260 fines each, stepped down from the House Ethics Committee and issued apologies.
     “I understand that the park ranger was trying to do his job,” said Mack, as quoted in the Pioneer Press. “I have the utmost respect for the work law enforcement does to keep Minnesotans safe and I apologize for offending these great men and women.”
     Kelly meanwhile reportedly said he was “disappointed” in his response.
     The statements failed to satisfy political opponents.
     Ken Martin, who chairs the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, called on GOP Chairman Keith Downey and GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt to have Kelly and Mack apologize directly to the officer.
     “When situations like this arise, it is the role of elected party leaders to make it clear to the people of Minnesota that they do not condone this sort of behavior,” Martin said in a statement. “Yet three weeks after the incident between Kelly and Mack occurred, and despite very serious allegations having been made against a law enforcement official who was just doing his job, we have heard absolutely nothing from Downey or Daudt.”
     “I call on both of them to ask Kelly and Mack to apologize directly to the law enforcement officer whose reputation they’ve hurt through their accusations. For two sitting legislators in leadership roles in the Republican Party to have made these claims and then refuse to take responsibility for their actions is unacceptable. Total silence on behalf of Republican party leaders only makes it worse.”
     Mack stood by her apology Thursday when she made her first public appearance in the wake of the scandal.
     “I’m going to focus on moving forward,” Mack said as she left a legislative committee hearing, as reported by the Pioneer Press. “I have apologized to law enforcement, I’ve paid the citation, and I am focused on moving forward.”
     When Mack agreed to pay the fine on Sept. 4, still over week before she apologized, the lawmaker noted that she still “disagree[d] with some of the details of the park ranger’s notes.”
     Mack refused to tell the Pioneer Press which statements in the deputy’s notes were amiss.
     The Pioneer Press describes Mack and Kelly as “powerful committee chairs in the Minnesota House of Representatives.”
     Kelly chairs the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee, and Mack the Health and Human Services Reform Committee.
     Daudt said he felt the lawmakers’ apologies were sufficient.”They both wrote what I thought was a very nice apology, a very heart-felt apology,” he said, according to the Pioneer Press.

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