Protesters call for Alexandria Rep. Franson to resign after controversial YouTube post
ST. PAUL - Protesters chanted for Rep. Mary Franson to resign and a liberal organization submitted a petition this morning demanding that she apologize after making comments that some say insulted poor Minnesotans.
Welfare Rights Committee members held signs proclaiming "People are not animals ever" and "Rep. Franson, you are out of touch" as they waited for her to go into a House Agriculture Committee meeting in the State Office Building across from the Capitol.
The reaction was to a video the Alexandria Republican posted Friday on YouTube in which she said: "I'll read you this little funny clip that we got from a friend. It says, 'Isn't it ironic that the food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.' "
Franson apologized in a Tweet, but protesters said that was not enough.
The Welfare Rights Committee, which frequently protests what members consider welfare attacks, said the first-term legislator should resign.
"She is not fit to be in public office," Kim Defranco said.
State troopers and House sergeant at arms officials escorted Franson past the protesters into a House agriculture committee meeting. Welfare Rights Committee members pushed their way into a hallway next to the meeting room, shouting and disrupting the committee.
Agriculture Chairman Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, explained to protesters that his committee is bipartisan, calming the crowd so the meeting not related to the controversy could continue.
Franson sat in the meeting sober faced and quiet in the short time that protesters looked on.
Later, Ryan Furlong and Stephanie Fenner of the Alliance for a Better Minnesota presented a Franson aide what they said were 2,500 electronic signatures on a petition calling for Franson to apologize.
Furlong said Franson's Tweet was not enough of an apology. He said she should issue a video apology, but Franson has said she is ready to move on from the controversy.
Earlier this week, Franson transmitted Tweets that contained death threats against her.
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Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.