What Rep. John Thompson represents

After Ilhan Omar and Keith Ellison, the DFL’s John Thompson must be the most outrageous officeholder ever to disgrace public life in Minnesota. He rode his outrageous 2020 misconduct all the way to the Minnesota House of Representatives this past November. See the Alpha News archives on Thompson conveniently compiled here.

Thompson represents something, all right, but it’s not exactly his St. Paul East Side constituents. Let’s see if we can figure out what it might be.

Late this week the St. Paul Pioneer Press’s Mara Gottfried reported that Thompson was pulled over late in the wee hours on Sunday for not having a front license plate on his car. He handed the officer his Wisconsin driver’s license. Wait, what?

He not only doesn’t have a Minnesota driver’s license, he has never had one, and his driving privileges in Minnesota had been revoked in April 2019 for a failed child support obligation. The good news is that on Wednesday Thompson made good on the child support.

Thompson told the Pioneer Press he never took out a Minnesota driver’s license, although he also had previously told the paper he’s lived in St. Paul for 18 years. And yet the same month Thompson appeared on the ballot for election to the legislature last year he renewed his Wisconsin driver’s license.

Indeed, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Thompson has held a valid Wisconsin license since July 2000. Thompson renewed the license in 2005, 2012 and November 2020.

The Pioneer Press’s Dave Orrick adds: “The address or addresses on Thompson’s renewed and expired licenses are not public, but Wisconsin driver’s licenses are only available to Wisconsin residents.” T

There’s more. Minnesota law requires new residents to obtain a Minnesota driver’s license within 60 days of residency. When did this guy become a Minnesota resident?

Residency raises yet another issue. Minnesota law also imposes a six-month residency requirement on candidates for the legislature. A candidate must have lived in his district at least six months before election day.

It’s all r-a-a-a-cism, of course, according to Thompson. “I thought we weren’t doing pretextual stops in this state, but we are,” Thompson said Tuesday outside the governor’s residence at an event marking five years since Philando Castile was fatally shot by a police officer in Falcon Heights. “We’re still getting ‘driving-while-Black’ tickets here in this state — as a matter of fact, in St. Paul. So let’s just call it what it is.”

What is it? St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell disputes the charge of r-a-a-a-cism. Chief Axtell posted a statement on Facebook yesterday. Here it is in its entirety:

On Sunday, July 4, one of our sergeants working a traffic safety detail stopped a state representative for driving without a front license plate on his vehicle, which is unlawful in the state of Minnesota.

Two days later I was shocked to hear that driver accuse the sergeant of making the stop based on race.

These aren’t accusations I take lightly, so I looked into the traffic stop, watched the body worn camera footage and spoke to the sergeant. This stop, made at about 1:20 in the morning, had absolutely nothing to do with the driver’s race.

What it did involve was a public servant doing what the community asks of him. He was working a Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety detail, which is a grant-funded initiative administered by the State of Minnesota. One of its goals is to ensure compliance with traffic laws.

Simply put, the traffic stop was by the books. What happened afterwards was anything but.

I’m dismayed and disappointed by the state representative’s response to the stop. Rather than taking responsibility for his own decisions and actions, he attempted to deflect, cast aspersions and deny any wrongdoing.

At the Saint Paul Police Department, we work hard to be fair, to treat everyone with respect and to lead by example. We also take responsibility for our actions. When we make mistakes, we own them and try to fix them. It’s what our community expects of its public servants.

The driver, an elected official who does not dispute driving without a front license plate, owes our sergeant an apology.

KSTP’s Tom Hauser is on the case (video below). The voluble John Thompson has suddenly gone silent. Hauser reported last night:

Thompson has not responded to nearly a dozen requests for a response from 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS via phone, text and email.

We’ve also learned more about the unusual issue of Thompson having only a Wisconsin driver’s license despite serving in the Minnesota State Legislature. A Wisconsin Department of Public Safety spokesman confirmed Thompson has had a license in that state since 2000 and has renewed it in 2005, 2012 and in November of 2020, the same month he was elected to represent the east of St. Paul in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says Thompson has never had a Minnesota driver’s license. From May 2019 until this week his Minnesota ‘driving privileges’ were suspended due to unpaid child support. Public safety officials said that issue was taken care of this week and he is now eligible to get a Minnesota driver’s license.

Without any response from Thompson, it’s difficult to know whether he claims his residency in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

The Minnesota Secretary of State provided 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS with a copy of Thompson’s affidavit of candidacy he filed when he ran for office in 2020. He was allowed to only list a P.O. box in St. Paul after checking a box that allows a residence to be classified as private data. A candidate who checks that box certifies “a police report has been submitted or I have an order for protections for my (or my family’s) safety, or my address is otherwise private by Minnesota law.”

And that’s not all. Hauser makes this salient point:

Meanwhile, Thompson declined to give St. Paul Police permission to release the body camera video of his traffic stop. That prompted the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association to issue a statement demanding the video’s release.

“Rep. Thompson’s signature issue at the state legislature was advocating for rapid release of police officer’s body camera footage,” MPPOA Executive Director Brian Peters said. “Now he’s blocking the public release of body camera footage of his own incident with law enforcement this past week. As a public official, it’s hypocritical and irresponsible. Constituents have the right to see how their legislator conducted himself, particularly when he made such strong claims about what happened during the traffic stop.”

Thompson is a liar and thug and hypocrite of epic proportions. Thompson charges the sergeant with a pretextual stop on account of Thompson’s race, but Thompson is the master of pretext. Among many other things, Thompson represents the use of alleged r-a-a-a-cism for pretextual purposes.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.