DFL Statement on Dean Johnson
STATEMENT BY MINNESOTA DFL CHAIR BRIAN MELENDEZ REGARDING SENATOR DEAN JOHNSON
ST. PAUL (03/20/06)-"Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson has been both a moral leader and a friend to Minnesota throughout his life. One unguarded comment in a private discussion with his fellow clergy cannot undo his 36 years of valued service in the Minnesota National Guard, his good work as a Lutheran minister or his 28 years of admirable public service at the State Capitol. Senator Johnson has the full support of the DFL Senate majority caucus, and we look forward to many more years of his leadership and service. He has apologized for his comments, and it's time to move on.
"Through his spokesperson last week, Governor Pawlenty said, 'Senator Johnson admitted that he made a mistake and apologized and there should be room for forgiveness.'
"When Republican Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum was asked last week if he had ever embellished in conversation, he said, 'If it means putting my spin on things, I'm sure I've done that on many occasions.'
"This incident must not distract us from the real issues that matter most to Minnesotans: education, health care, jobs, transportation, and clean air and water.
"The minister who secretly taped Senator Johnson's comments in a private meeting is a petty opportunist. His covert deception exposes the extremists pushing the same-sex amendment as people of weak principles.
"The Republican Party endorsed these underhanded tactics by broadcasting the secretly-taped conversation in a radio advertisement. The Republican Party's actions are morally and politically reprehensible. When they can't win on the real issues of the day, they will descend into the muck. Well, they can wallow there alone."
Ron Carey is no match for Brian Melendez. The Drama Queen is whining that this statement is "hateful." The College Republicans were demonstrating outside Dean Johnson's office. CR and Student for Bachmann Luke Hellier gets quoted.
"It is time for Dean Johnson to end the deception and come clean with the people of Minnesota," said Luke Hellier, Vice Chair North of the Minnesota College Republicans. "He is supposed to be a leader in this state, and even his apologies for his insincerity are deceptive and insincere. We still don't know how many other groups he told this same deceptive story, or whether or not he is going to allow the people to vote on the defense of marriage. That isn't leadership."
Luke, the bill is getting a hearing. There are other issues before the legislature. We can continue to debate gay marriage on talk radio (though I think people are getting tired of the topic).
Governor Pawlenty is getting worried that the Republican Party focus on Johnson's embellishment is getting in the way of accomplishing other legislative business.
"He's asked for forgiveness and a second chance," Pawlenty said. "I think we should give it to him and move on."
Pawlenty said he remains troubled by inconsistencies in Johnson's account and that of high court members. Supreme Court justices have denied promising they wouldn't overturn an existing state law banning gay marriage.
All of it comes amid a push for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The measure has passed the House but needs Senate approval before voters can weigh in during a statewide referendum.
"He's been caught in at best an exaggeration and at worst a false statement. He's essentially admitted that," Pawlenty said at a news conference on an unrelated topic. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done here in St. Paul relating to education and health care and transportation and the like. The matter has been aired out pretty good and at some point we need to turn the page and get on to the business of the people."
Mark Drake, a state Republican Party spokesman, said there are no immediate plans to back down.
"We value Gov. Pawlenty, his opinion and his perspective, but we feel the state party has a different role," Drake said. "We can forgive Dean Johnson for his fabrication but we feel there must be some accountability there."
Party chairman Ron Carey has called for more investigation, and some legislative Republicans are mulling whether to file an ethics complaint against Johnson. The group Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage wants Johnson to resign his seat.
It seems that the Bachmann amendment is the only thing on Republican Party Chair Ron Carey's agenda. This will hurt the party when this becomes their only issue.
UPDATE: The Drama Queen is beside herself. Lloydletta contributor Mark H notes:
Madame Brodkorp also claims that the Melendez statement contains lies. Where?
True, some of it is opinion and political spin, but.....
As the Drama Queen says:
The DFL has done nothing to defend Senator Johnson, other than issusing (sic) a press release yesterday filled with lies and hateful statements.
The Drama Queen seems frustrated. Even Governor Tim Pawlenty seems to be agreeing with the DFL on this one.