A Minnesota state senator wants Secretary of State Steve Simon to explain how — or if — his office verified Rep. John Thompson’s residency when he filed for candidacy last year.
“Minnesotans have a right to know what the Secretary of State did to determine Rep. Thompson was eligible to seek office in House District 67A,” Republican Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer said in a statement.
“The public normally is able to view candidate filings to hold them accountable for living where they are running. In the absence of a public filing, it’s important to know what, if any, steps the Secretary of State took to ensure a candidate using narrow privacy protections actually lived in the district they are required to live in,” she continued.
Thompson, a Democrat, was pulled over July 4 for driving without a front license plate and provided authorities with his driver’s license — from Wisconsin. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Thompson has never been issued a Minnesota license.
In November 2020, the same month Thompson was elected to the Minnesota House, he renewed his Wisconsin driver’s license, the Pioneer Press reported. New residents are required to apply for a license within 60 days of moving to Minnesota.
Additionally, candidates are required to live in the district they intend to represent for at least six months by Election Day. When filing for candidacy, Thompson said he needed to keep his address private for safety reasons, and so his only known address is a P.O. box in St. Paul.
He may have been required to complete a separate form swearing to his residency in House District 67A, but Secretary Simon’s office has not provided any clarification. According to Kiffmeyer, Simon’s office “would not release the secondary document Mr. Thompson used to verify his address.”
“In the absence of a public verification process, which may be Mr. Thompson’s right, can you provide in detail the steps you took to confirm Mr. Thompson’s address was accurate? What is the form he provided to your office? What, if any, additional documents were requested and/or presented by Mr. Thompson to verify his residence? What tools or resources did you utilize to verify the address was in House District 67A, since the public cannot perform this simple fact check on their own? What, if any, documents were requested and presented by Mr. Thompson to verify his residence?” Kiffmeyer said in a letter to Simon.
Simon’s office told KSTP reporter Tom Hauser that the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office is responsible for the matter, but they said it’s actually the Office of Administrative Hearings, who said it’s not their job.
“I previously lived in Wisconsin, and my family and I considered moving back there to care for a family member, who will now be coming to live here,” Thompson said in his first public statement on the controversy Monday night. “I live and work in St. Paul, and have for many years. My Wisconsin license hadn’t previously posed an issue for me, but I will now be changing it to a Minnesota license, as I should have before.”
Kiffmeyer said the public needs to be “sure there is absolutely no favoritism or exceptions being provided for DFL legislators by a DFL Secretary of State.”