A man who threatened to kill Minnesota Republican Sen. Steve Drazkowski and his family will be required to complete 24 hours of community service and write an apology.
That’s according to a pretrial diversion agreement approved Wednesday by Ramsey County Judge Andrew Gordon. Under the agreement, the state will suspend prosecution for a period of 12 months against 27-year-old Clay Man Soo Sletta of Minneapolis, who will see a charge of felony threats of violence dismissed if he successfully abides by the conditions of the diversion period. Upon completion of the diversion program, no record of the case will be available in court records because there will have been no formal adjudication.
“The court finds a substantial likelihood of conviction and that the benefits of rehabilitation outweigh the harm to society from suspending prosecution,” Gordon’s order says.
According to the charges:
A state trooper visited Drazkowski’s Senate office on March 16 where the senator showed the trooper a threatening message he had received on his campaign’s Facebook page.
“I will kill you and your entire family,” the message said. An auto reply thanked the sender for the message. “Very easy to find where you live,” the sender replied.
Sletta admitted to sending the messages because he was “very upset” with Drazkowski’s criticisms of a universal school meals program. The senator’s speech on the floor of the Minnesota Senate in opposition to the program went viral online and attracted substantial negative media attention nationwide, including from Vanity Fair, who called Drazkowski “uniquely evil.”
Minnesota Republican state Sen. Steve Drazkowski on bill providing free school breakfast and lunch: "I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry. Yet today. I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that says they don't have access to enough food to eat." #mnleg pic.twitter.com/H7JsyfsGWw
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 14, 2023
Sletta told investigators that he wanted to “vent” and didn’t think his message would be read by a “real person.” He also told police that he regretted making the threats, sent an apology to Drazkowski’s Facebook page, and “requested an avenue to issue a formal apology.”
Sletta does not have any prior criminal convictions.
Drazkowski told the court in a victim impact statement that he and his legislative assistant received “a lot of angry, profanity-laced calls” in the firestorm that followed his comments.
“I was hoping that the court would take this situation more seriously. I know that some of my colleagues have taken the approach that if you say something that people take issue with, you should be prepared to take the consequences, no matter what they may be. I do not agree that those consequences should include personal threats to elected officials or their families, and I don’t believe they do either. None of us should,” he said.
Drazkowski thinks behavior like Sletta’s could discourage qualified candidates from running for office.
“I want to be clear: Mr. Sletta’s actions had no chilling effect on my speech on the floor of the Minnesota State Senate. But I talk to many people from different backgrounds who are considering running for office. People with young families would already be making sacrifices to be in public office. Personal threats of violence are now part of that sacrifice, not just at the national but increasingly at the state and local level,” he said. “That is the real cost here, not to me but to the people of Minnesota, that good people will no longer run for office.”