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Sheriff: Cited lawmaker ‘changed her tune’

admin//September 11, 2015

Sheriff: Cited lawmaker ‘changed her tune’

admin//September 11, 2015

A Minnesota lawmaker cited for making out in a public park with a fellow legislator “changed her tune” between the date of the incident and when details started to trickle out, according to an email from the sheriff whose office handled the case.

According to his account of conversations with Rep. Tara Mack obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request, Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie wrote Mack initially “said she was glad the deputy came along to save her from an uncomfortable situation” after she and Rep. Tim Kelly were cited for nuisance on Aug. 25. Days later, her attitude about the incident had changed, Leslie said, suggesting it could ruin her career.

Leslie’s summary of conversations with Mack was included in an email Leslie sent to himself this week and provided to the AP Thursday in response to a request for the incident report and any correspondence with the two lawmakers.

“She referred to it as divine intervention,” he wrote of his initial phone call with Mack, who he said also inquired “what was public and how this could play out.”

The sheriff went on to write that Mack’s attitude had changed two days after the citation when she got wind that some of the park ranger’s notes were part of the public notes in the case.

“Today 8/27 she changed her tune, she had heard from a lobbyist that there was info that was in the notes,” the sheriff wrote. Leslie wrote he told her the notes said Mack was in a car with her pants unzipped and down.

“She did not comment other than to say this is very salacious and that she is married to a minister and her career could be ruined,” Leslie wrote. “I said I understood that but if you are choosing to say that the park ranger lied … I have a big problem.”

According to Leslie’s notes, Mack also asked if the ranger was wearing a body camera at the time — he wasn’t, Leslie responded — and said the ranger told them to “get a hotel.”

When the first news story of the citation broke Sept. 2, the two Republican lawmakers, who are married to other people, called the park ranger’s account a lie. But they eventually each paid $260 fines. The nuisance citations are misdemeanors.

Mack did not respond to requests for comment Thursday regarding Leslie’s email. In a statement last week, she said she disagreed with some details of the ranger’s notes but opted not to file a complaint against him as she initially vowed to do.

“With the loving support of so many, I’m moving on to focus my time and attention on my marriage, my family and those in my community,” she said.

Leslie also did not respond to a voicemail or email requesting comment Thursday.

Mack and Kelly are powerful committee chairs in the state House, where they’ve served since 2009. Kelly lives in Red Wing. Mack is from Apple Valley.

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