The Potluck

Minnesota state Sen. Scott Jensen plays golf during legislative hearing, prompting criticism

By: - May 1, 2020 4:01 pm

State Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, appeared to be in a golf cart during a Senate committee meeting Thursday.

State lawmakers working remotely have typically participated in Zoom meetings from their home or work offices. 

State Sen. Scott Jensen, however, carried on his legislative duties during a round of golf Thursday, triggering criticism from the chair of the DFL Party.

During a hearing by the Senate Health and Human Services committee on Thursday, Jensen, the Chaska Republican and vice chair of the committee, weighed in on legislation about telemedicine

He presented an amendment while in the middle of a round of golf. At one point, his unmuted microphone prompted the committee chair to remind members to mute their lines because of the ambient noise from the golf course. 

Chairing the meeting was Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, who chuckled when DFL Sen. Jeff Hayden of Minneapolis pointed out Jensen’s golfing. “How’s he hitting them out there,” Hayden asked. Benson replied: “I wasn’t going to say anything, but I was going to text him,” she said.

Jensen appeared befuddled by the attention. 

He told the Star Tribune’s Torey Van Oot that the hearing went longer than expected and that rather than cancel his golf plans, he decided to participate from the course. “I had my laptop and phone and charger and, yes, I was enjoying the weather,” she quoted him on Twitter as saying. “I don’t see it as an issue. I was paying attention.”

Jensen did not respond to a Reformer inquiry. 

DFL Party chair Ken Martin called for Jensen to apologize. 

“Senator Jensen owes an apology to the people of Minnesota for golfing while a committee he’s on considered ways to help Minnesotans with substance use disorder continue treatment during this pandemic,” Martin said in a statement. “The fact that Jensen cannot be bothered to do his job is an insult to those Minnesotans who have lost work and who are suffering due to the outbreak of COVID-19.”


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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.