The Potluck

Senate holds hearing on political candidate residency questions after Rep. John Thompson controversy

By: - October 7, 2021 2:53 pm

Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake. Photo by Tony Webster/Minnesota Reformer.

A Senate committee on Thursday heard testimony about how candidates and lawmakers verify their addresses when they file for office, exploring a new law to prevent lawmakers from living outside of districts they represent. 

State Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, convened a hearing to review current law and processes for candidates who file for office. 

The hearing comes a few months after state Rep. John Thompson, DFL-St. Paul, generated weeks of controversy after questions arose about whether he lives outside of his district following a July 4 traffic stop in St. Paul. The stop revealed Thompson had a Wisconsin driver’s license. 

Thompson was recently expelled from the House DFL caucus after allegations of domestic abuse were unearthed after his traffic stop. 

Election officials do not physically vet whether a candidate lives at the address they registered when they filed for office. Officials said they typically only verify that the address provided is within the district of the office a candidate is running for.

Minnesota Senate Counsel Alexis Stangl said that if there are questions about whether a candidate lives in their district, anyone can file a so-called errors and omissions petition with the state Supreme Court for a statewide or federal office or at a local district court for a local office. 

The court would then review the matter in a hearing to determine if a candidate lives in the district. In 2016, for instance, the Supreme Court ruled that state Rep. Bob Barrett, a Republican who represented District 32B, did not live in the district and was ineligible for reelection.

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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.