Duluth Rep. Kerry Gauthier urged to quit by own party amid sex scandal - TwinCities.com:
|(D) Rep. Kerry Gauthier|
Calls for state Rep. Kerry Gauthier to quit politics grew louder Monday, as party leaders urged the first-term DFLer from Duluth to withdraw his bid for re-election following reports he had oral sex with a 17-year-old boy at a Duluth-area rest stop in July.
The calls come despite the fact the St. Louis County attorney's office determined no crime had been committed in the rest stop incident.
"The situation involving Kerry Gauthier is deeply unfortunate, both for Gauthier's constituents and for our party," Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chair Ken Martin said in a statement Monday, Aug. 20. "His actions are inexcusable. No one in our party condones what he did, nor will we defend him in this matter."
Martin joined Rep. Paul Thissen, a Democrat, in asking Gauthier not to seek re-election.
Thissen met with the embattled legislator over the weekend, after Gauthier was released from the hospital for a "serious health condition," according to a statement.
"I shared with him that his friends and colleagues are concerned for him and his health, but also that we were all very disappointed in his behavior. I expect he will address these issues publicly and soon," Thissen said. "As I shared with Representative Gauthier, I believe he should withdraw from the race for re-election."
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, a Republican, made a stronger call Friday, saying that Gauthier should resign during his current term in the wake of the public sex incident.
Gauthier hasn't addressed the issue with the media. A call for comment Monday to his office was not returned.
Also Friday, Duluth City Council member Jay Fosle announced plans to run as a write-in candidate against Gauthier and Republican Travis Silver. And Monday, Erik Simonson, an assistant fire chief with the Duluth Fire Department, told the Duluth News Tribune he also plans to launch a write-in campaign.
Gauthier, a first-term representative, is up for re-election in November.
According to police reports obtained by the Duluth News Tribune, Gauthier, 56, told police in a July 31 interview that he found the boy through an ad he put on Craigslist.
The two met at the Thompson Hill Travel Information Center, on the north side of Interstate 35 overlooking Duluth and Lake Superior.
They engaged in oral sex behind the rest stop pavilion, the report said.
Another person at the rest stop called the Minnesota State Patrol to report suspicious activity, the newspaper said. The patrol and local police ended up investigating.
Both Gauthier and the boy said that the sex was consensual and that no money changed hands, the newspaper reported.
In his statement, DFL Chair Martin concluded by saying that the party had waited long enough for Gauthier's "situation to be resolved."
"The people of Duluth deserve a Representative who will stand up for their interests, without the sort of distractions that Rep. Gauthier has caused through exceedingly poor judgment," he said.
Gauthier's district is a reliably Democratic one and the situation may complicate efforts by Democrats to regain control of the House.
This report contains information from the Associated Press.
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