DFLers call for Gauthier’s exitCalls for state Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, to step down from office grew louder Monday, when the Democratic Minnesota House leader announced he wants Gauthier to leave office in the wake of recently released police reports indicating that the freshman lawmaker and a teenage boy had oral sex at a highway rest area.
By: Don Davis, State Capitol Bureau
Calls for state Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, to step down from office grew louder Monday, when the Democratic Minnesota House leader announced he wants Gauthier to leave office in the wake of recently released police reports indicating that the freshman lawmaker and a teenage boy had oral sex at a highway rest area.
“As I shared with Rep. Gauthier, I believe he should withdraw from the race for re-election,” House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a noontime statement.
Meanwhile, a local DFL leader added her voice to the chorus. Colleen Nardone, 8th Congressional District DFL associate chairwoman, shared her personal opinion about what Gauthier should do.
“I think his political career has been damaged to the point where it’s irreparable,” she said. “It’s sad, but at this point, I think it’s not only in the party’s interests but in Kerry’s own personal interests for him to leave office at this time.”
Gauthier was released from St. Luke’s hospital in Duluth on Saturday, and Thissen said he talked to the lawmaker after that.
“I am deeply disappointed with Rep. Kerry Gauthier’s conduct that has been reported over the last several days,” Thissen said. “The conduct was wrong, and no one in the DFL House Caucus condones the behavior.”
Thissen said his conversation with Gauthier was their first since reports surfaced about last month’s rest area meeting.
“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,” Thissen said. “I expect he will address these issues publicly and soon.”
Gauthier had been hospitalized since Wednesday morning for publicly unspecified reasons. That was the day the News Tribune reported he was under investigation for an incident at the Thompson Hill rest area off Interstate 35 near Proctor.
The St. Louis County Attorney’s Office said that charges were not warranted against Gauthier for the incident that police reports show involved the legislator and a 17-year-old male because no laws were violated.
Investigative records released Thursday showed that Gauthier admitted to meeting with the young man for consensual oral sex at the rest stop. The young man, who said he considered Gauthier a stranger, reported to officials that he told Gauthier he was 18 years old.
Gauthier has made no public comments about the incident. He did not return another call from the News Tribune on Tuesday.
Don Davis is a reporter for Forum Communications at the state Capitol. News Tribune staff writer Peter Passi contributed to this report.