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McFeely: St. Paul legislator a stain on DFL

A St. Paul DFLer has domestic abuse allegations leveled against him after getting scrutiny for claiming racial bias during what appeared to be a routine traffic stop.

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Forum New Service columnist Mike McFeely
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MOORHEAD — Minnesota Democrats are right to call for the resignation of DFLer John Thompson. Already exposed as an unfit legislator more interested in attention than lawmaking, it was revealed over the weekend Thompson has several domestic abuse allegations against him.

He needs to go.

Thompson was already proof the DFL has boneheaded legislators, just like Minnesota Republicans.

A liberal activist, Thompson knows sometimes being the loudest and most disruptive voice in the room has its advantages. He's good copy, as they used to say in the newspaper business.

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John Thompson, a St. Paul legislator, speaks to reporters at the Minnesota capitol in 2021. Sarah Mearhoff / Forum News Service

He also learned grabbing headlines can be a two-way street.

Thompson recently found himself the center of scrutiny from the media and political colleagues (including some Democrats) after he was pulled over for what appeared to be a routine traffic stop in St. Paul.

Thompson immediately pulled a "do you know who I am?" He told the officer he was a state legislator, without being asked.

Then when the cop questioned why a Minnesota legislator has a Wisconsin driver's license, as Thompson does, Thompson began to get agitated and eventually accused the officer of racial profiling.

Thompson was cited for driving on a suspended license due to unpaid child support.

Reporters have since found Thompson has lived in St. Paul and voted in Minnesota for many years. Yet he's never had a Minnesota driver's license and renewed his license in Wisconsin several times, including as recently as 2020. That's the same year he was elected to the Legislature.

It's not the first time Thompson's made headlines for the wrong reasons. During the 2020 campaign, Thompson protested outside the home of the Minneapolis police union president in Hugo. Thompson was recorded hitting effigies of Kroll and his wife and talking about "burning Hugo down."

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He also ripped Gov. Tim Walz for not having the "testicular fortitude" to fight Republicans over police reform measures liberal DFLers wanted.

Thompson, who is Black, said he ran for the Legislature to advocate for social justice and police reform. He was a friend of Philando Castile, a Black man shot and killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop in 2016.

Thompson's causes are worthy.

He is the wrong person to advance them, however. While it's sometimes good for activists to be disrupters — Donald Trump essentially won the White House by promising to upend the system — Thompson no longer has credibility. When an activist like Thompson stirs the pot, he better be sure his slate is clean.

Thompson's is not.

Thompson knew he had outstanding child support payments. He knew he had a Wisconsin driver's license.

He knew, too, that there were four domestic assault allegations against him from 2003-2010. He was accused of punching and choking women, sometimes in the presence of children. The allegations were first reported by a Twin Cities TV station.

Maybe it would've been best to keep a low profile given his past.

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Gov. Tim Walz and other leading DFLers are right to call for Thompson's resignation. He should quit his legislative seat immediately.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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