In news reports about the nuisance citations that state representatives Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, and Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley received in a Dakota County park in August, the lawmakers have stated that they intend to file complaints against the civilan park ranger who wrote the tickets.
Not so, according to late Friday afternoon tweets from Minnesota news media:
Reps. Tim Kelly & Tara Mack have decided not to file complaints against officer who accused them of “making out” in park. Will pay fines.— David Montgomery (@dhmontgomery) September 4, 2015
Rep. Tara Mack and Rep. Tim Kelly say they do not agree with "some" details in the ranger's notes, they have decided to pay the fines.— Tom Hauser (@thauserkstp) September 4, 2015
#mnleg Reps. Kelly and Mack say they will pay their fines and not file complaints over citations they received for 'making out' in a park.— R. Stassen-Berger (@RachelSB) September 4, 2015
We're pretty sure this qualifies as a Friday afternoon long holiday weekend news dump.
Montgomery and Stassen-Berger report in Kelly, Mack won’t file complaint against officer over ‘making out’ citation:
Two Minnesota state lawmakers who accused a park ranger of lying when he cited them for “making out” in a Dakota County park have decided not to file a complaint against the officer.
Instead, both Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, and Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, will pay the $260 in fines each owes for the “nuisance” ticket each was issued.
“While I disagree with some of the details of the park ranger’s notes, I have decided not to file a formal complaint and instead pay the citation,” Mack said in a statement released late Friday afternoon. . . .
On Friday, the lawmakers appeared to have softened their dispute with the ranger’s report. Mack’s statements said she disagreed with “some of the details of the park ranger’s notes” and Kelly said he “does not agree with what was written in the report.” On Tuesday, both accused the report of being “illegally obtained” and said it was completely false. . . .
Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie stood by his ranger, a part-time civilian employee with no discipline on his record. No video footage of the incident exists, which meant a dispute could come down to the ranger’s word against Mack’s and Kelly’s.
The two lawmakers are both married to other people. In their statements, each lawmaker said concern for their family was behind their decision to not file complaints.
“I understand being in the public eye but this has an impact on my family which I’m not willing to accept,” Kelly said.
Mack said she’s “moving on to focus my time and attention on my marriage, my family and those in my community.”
Earlier Friday afternoon, Bluestem learned that no formal complaints have been filed with either the Dakota County Attorney's office or with the Sheriff's Office, according to chief deputy county attorney Phil Prokopowitz. In a phone interview, Prokopowitz told Bluestem that concerns had been shared directly with the sheriff's office, and that a legal representative of the lawmakers had indirectly indicated the intent to file complaints about the deputy who serves as a park ranger.
Obviously not something they're willing to follow through on.
In Do law enforcement officers lie? Dakota County should investigate Mack and Kelly accusations, Bluestem had written that if the lawmakers were serious about their accusations, that there should been an independent investigation of the complaints.
However, the decision to pay the fines and not file complaints will serve to support speculation and rumors that Kelly and Mack are indeed romantically involved.
While both are being paraded as "family value" hypocrites on websites and social media, Bluestem suspects that the accusations and insinuations will be more sticky for Mack, who has ridden that elephant in campaigns, than for Kelly, who in 2011 voted against putting the marriage amendment on the 2012 ballot and who tried for the civil unions "middle ground" during the marriage equality debate in 2013.
However, both received 100 percent ratings as "Champions of the Family" from the Minnesota Family Council in 2013, so there's that. In the Family Council's 2014 voters guide, Kelly and Mack differed from the group's preferred position only with regard to legalizing medical cannabis, which the group opposes.
Other fall-out for the two? Both are out of consideration for running for the Minnesota's Second Congressional District seat left vacant by the retirement of John Kline. Again, this is more likely to be more of a blow to Mack. We had heard chatter prior to this episode and Kline's announcement that Mack, a former intern and Republican house staffer who was first elected in her mid-20s, was being groomed for Kline's seat.
Given the random nature of the incidence that lead to the citation, we don't believe the House-of-Cards-esque speculation we're hearing about the timing of the Kelly-Mack Naughty Adventure and Kline's retirement. Perhaps Kline resented the blossoming rose of Mack's ambition and chose to announce his retirement when the surprising nipping of that bud suddenly snipped.
We're not close enough to the Second to tell.
But since this is real life, and not a scripted Netflix melodrama, it was simply a poor parking decision, not a plot or "rotten politics," that triggered discovery of the alleged public exposure for Kelly and Mack. Let's hope they do better by their families now on.
Photos: Tim Kelly and Tara Mack.
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