Minn. Lawmaker Involved in Sex Scandal Says He Won't Seek Re-Election
Hours after releasing a statement saying he will seek re-election, a Minnesota state lawmaker who police say had a rest-stop liaison with a 17-year-old boy told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he has reconsidered his position and will not be running again. He also says he will not be at the upcoming special session to discuss flood relief for the area he represents. He says he does not want to be a distraction.
In his original statement released Wednesday afternoon, 56-year-old Rep. Kerry Gauthier said, the scandal "has been an obvious tragic embarrassment to me. I am sorry for the hurt this has caused my family, friends and my constituents. I know I made a mistake and am determined to make amends as best I can. I am a better person than this incident would indicate and will demonstrate this with my future behavior."
Gauthier hasn't been charged in the July incident, and authorities said he wouldn't be because the boy was older than 16, the legal age of consent, and no money was exchanged. Police say the teenager responded to the lawmaker's Craigslist ad for "no strings attached" sex.
Gauthier admitted to the liaison, according to police reports made public late last week. The teen told police the two had oral sex, according to the reports.
In his statement Gauthier said, "I am a better person than this incident would indicate and will try to demonstrate this with my future behavior. I can change my behavior, but I can't change the fact that I am a gay man and have known so since I was in college. I simply must act as a mature gay man would act, and not as this incident portrays me."
Gauthier was hospitalized last week for an 'unknown health issue.' In his statement he revealed, "When faced with the trauma and public shame brought by this incident I reverted to old behavior... I took an overdose of pills to not feel any pain and this resulted in my hospitalization." He said he needs to recommit himself to his sobriety program.
The scandal has called a reliably Democratic seat into question as that party tries to regain control of the House by winning at least six more seats in November.
Democratic House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin on Monday called on Gauthier to withdraw from the race.
Thissen had said he was looking at state law for a way to replace Gauthier on the ballot if Gauthier formally exits from the race.
"I think that would be the fairest thing for the people of Duluth," Thissen said.
Duluth firefighter Erik Simonson launched a bid as a write-in Democratic candidate for Gauthier's seat Tuesday. Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle also has filed paperwork to run as a write-in candidate. Republican Travis Silvers already is on the ballot.
Click here to read Gauthier's statement.
The Associated Press Contributed to this Report.