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DFL House leader says Gauthier should not run

ST. PAUL -- The Democratic Minnesota House leader wants Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, to leave the Legislature after police reports indicate he and a teen-aged 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 Monday statement.

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."

Thissen did not go as far as House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, who Friday evening called on Gauthier to resign.

"I believe we have given Rep. Gauthier and the Democrat caucus a respectful amount of time to address this situation on their own," Zellers said. "Rep. Gauthier's actions are not becoming of a member of the House of Representatives, and today I am calling on him to resign from the Legislature."

Gauthier had been hospitalized since Wednesday morning for publicly unspecified reasons. That was the day the Duluth the News Tribune reported he was under investigation for an incident at a rest area on Thompson Hill.

The St. Louis County attorney's office announced it will not press any charges against Gauthier for the incident that police reports show involved the legislator and a 17-year-old male.

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 is a first-term legislator.

Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle has filed paperwork to run a write-in campaign for the Nov. 6 election. Erik Simonson, an assistant fire chief with the Duluth Fire Department, confirmed Monday that he plans to launch his campaign for the seat Tuesday.

It is too late for Gauthier's name to be dropped from the ballot.

The Duluth News Tribune contributed to this story.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.