Minnesota House DFL minority leader Paul Thissen is calling for Duluth Rep. Kerry Gauthier to end his campaign for reelection to the Minnesota legislature after his sexual encounter last month at an interstate rest stop.
Gauthier, a Democrat, was questioned by police on the evening of July 22 at the Thompson Hill rest area off Interstate 35, where he met a 17-year-old boy for sex.
The two arranged the meeting on Craigslist, and the teen admitted he had told Gauthier he was 18 when responding to the post from the 56-year-old state lawmaker. The age of consent in Minnesota is 16.
No charges were filed against Rep. Gauthier, but his DFL colleagues are clearly disappointed.
Rep. Thissen released the following statement Monday:
"I am deeply disappointed with Rep. Kerry Gauthier's conduct that has been reported over the last several days. The conduct was wrong and no one in the DFL House Caucus condones the behavior.
After being admitted for a serious health condition last Wednesday morning Rep. Gauthier was released from the hospital over the weekend and I was able to visit with him. It was the first time he and I had spoken since we all learned of the events of last month. 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.
As I shared with Rep. Gauthier, I believe he should withdraw from the race for reelection. In the meantime, we will keep Rep. Gauthier in our thoughts as he continues to recover, and look forward to hearing more from him - and the people of his district - in the coming days."
Minnesota DFL part chair Ken Martin added his disappointment, saying the party "will not defend him in this matter." Martin issued the following statement Monday:
"The situation involving Kerry Gauthier is deeply unfortunate, both for Gauthier's constituents and for our party. His actions are inexcusable. No one in our party condones what he did, nor will we defend him in this matter.
We have waited long enough for this situation to be resolved, and it is with immense disappointment that I join my DFL colleagues in asking Rep. Gauthier not to seek re-election. 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."
If Gauthier does not drop out of the race soon, any Democrat looking to replace him would likely need to run as a write-in candidate. That would make the race much tougher to win.
House Republicans have urged Gauthier to resign his post.