On Monday, the top Minnesota House Democrat, House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman, issued what could be construed as a racist attack on other members of the House who were not present in the room as two minority women in her caucus were speaking of the right to protest. Hortman said, "I hate to break up the 100 percent white male card game in the retiring room but I think this is an important debate.”
Both Republicans and Democrats were playing cards, attempting to relax as discussion on the public safety budget bill had already dragged on for more than three hours,
House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, ripped Hortman, asserting, “I have to say that last comment was completely inappropriate for the House of Representatives. And I would hope that you would apologize for that statement, that you made minority leader” She noted that the retiring room has TV and audio feeds available.
Representative Greg Davids, presiding over the debate when Hortman erupted, called for Hortman to resign.
But on Tuesday, Hortman doubled down: "I thought it was very disrespectful. I thought it was impolite, I thought it was rude and I thought it needed to be called out. This is a new thing, members sitting in the back playing cards for extended periods of time. There is a whole new level of disrespect and disregard for debate and discussion. I don't know a lot of people who get to sit for two hours and play cards and ignore what everyone else at their workplace is doing."
Hortman added, "For too long when women are ignored, when people of color are ignored, when women of color are ignored, people don't say anything. We need to say something. We need to call it out when we see it."
Davids vehemently disagreed, saying, "To classify a race and to classify a sex is out of line and against House rules. She violated House rules. Now, what happens in the retiring room is nobody's business … After hours and hours of debate repeating the same thing, you need a break from that at times.”
The House GOP says it will file a "protest and dissent letter," but no ethics complaint.