Thompson says he won’t resign

By: - July 18, 2021 10:52 am

Body camera footage shows Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, accusing a St. Paul police officer of racially profiling him for pulling him over for missing a front license plate. (Screenshot)

Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, is not going to resign, despite calls from numerous Democratic leaders — including Gov. Tim Walz and and House Speaker Melissa Hortman — following news of domestic violence in his past.

That sets up a possible vote in the House to remove Thompson from office. House Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt has said Republicans will file ethics complaints against Thompson Monday if he doesn’t resign. The House can expel a member with a two-thirds vote, and then Walz could order a special election to fill the vacancy.

Following news of a traffic stop that put his Minnesota residency in question, Fox 9 reported Friday on several domestic abuse allegations where Thompson was accused of assaults between 2003 and 2010. But his former campaign manager, Jamar Nelson, who is working with Thompson, said on Sunday that Thompson does not intend to resign.

“John Thompson was elected in November to do the will of the people and as a legislator that’s what he has gotten right to work and done,” Nelson said in a press release. “These latest malicious accusations are an attempted political distraction orchestrated by both parties and an amplified showing of systematic racism and has no bearing and he’s doing the people’s work.”

Thompson’s criminal record came to light after he made news by claiming he was racially profiled by a St. Paul police officer during a July Fourth traffic stop where he was pulled over for not having a front license plate. While handing the sergeant a Wisconsin driver’s license, a frustrated Thompson mentioned he was a state representative, body cam video shows. He was cited for driving while under suspension.

Days later, Thompson alleged he was racially profiled at a memorial service for Philando Castile, his friend who was killed by St. Anthony police during a 2016 traffic stop. The St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote about his allegations of racial profiling, and Thompson has since been caught up in a whirlwind of controversy over whether he lives in the district he represents and why he didn’t have a Minnesota license.

A police group called on the Wisconsin attorney general to investigate whether Thompson committed perjury when he renewed his Wisconsin driver’s license in November 2020, the same month he was elected to the House. And former Secretary of State, now-state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R- Big Lake, called on Secretary of State Steve Simon to explain whether Thompson’s residency was verified when he filed for candidacy last spring.

After news of domestic violence surfaced, a wave of Democrats and Republicans have called on Thompson to resign. Walz released a statement Saturday saying the alleged acts of violence were “serious and deeply disturbing.”

“Minnesotans deserve representatives of the highest moral character, who uphold our shared values,” Walz said in a press release. “Representative Thompson can no longer effectively be that leader and he should immediately resign.”

Numerous Republicans and Democrats have called on Thompson to resign, including House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and state DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, who may run for governor against Walz, laid blame at the feet of Walz, saying on Twitter, “Threatening to burn down Hugo and yelling at children, or holding an out-of-state drivers license and disparaging law enforcement should have been enough on its own. Better late than never, but that’s the leadership we expect from Walz.”

Thompson is currently on trial for interfering with a police officer at North Memorial Health Hospital in Minneapolis in 2019.

Updated at 2:06 p.m. Sunday. This is a developing story; check back for updates. 


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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.