ST. PAUL — Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman on Wednesday, Aug. 28, notified another state lawmaker that he would no longer serve on Public Safety and Judiciary Committees following his May arrest.
In a letter to Rep. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook, from Hortman, the Brooklyn Park Democrat said she was removing Grossell from the legislative panels after Grossell was cited for disorderly conduct and trespassing at a hotel bar near the state Capitol.
Grossell on May 4 entered the hotel bar at the Best Western Plus Capitol Ridge, where he stayed during the legislative session. After three drinks there, the former sheriff's deputy and police officer slumped over a table, a bartender told the police, and a guard was called over to help. Video footage showed Grossell shove the guard several times before the guard allowed the lawmaker to return to his room.
After the scuffle, the guard asked to press assault charges and hotel employees called the police. Officers found Grossell in his room, unable to communicate and, concerned about his ability to care for himself, they took him to Regions Hospital.
At the hospital, medical professionals and police officers reported that Grossell became belligerent, police records show and disturbed the care of other patients. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported last month that Grossell repeatedly told officers around him of his position as a legislator, his former positions as a retired cop or deputy. And he told one officer that "it will be hell to pay."
That line stuck with Hortman, who in her letter said she had profound concerns about Grossell threatening officers and calling attention to his elected office.
"The police report documents behaviors that are in conflict with the expectations we have for members of the Minnesota House of Representatives," Hortman wrote. "This conduct is an abuse of the office you hold as an elected official and a consequence and sanction is appropriate."
Grosell in June reached an agreement to avoid convictions if he completes a six-month court diversion program. And on Wednesday, he said he'd continue working to defend men and women in law enforcement.
"I have worked since the night of the incident to personally apologize to those involved, make amends, and complete the legal process," Grossell said in a statement. "Despite Speaker Hortman's efforts to remove law enforcement voices from the Public Safety Committee, I will continue to focus on efforts to make our communities safer and support the men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line each day to protect Minnesotans."
Grossell previously sat on the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee and in his two terms sponsored legislation aimed at protecting medical workers and first responders. In the months following his arrest, Grossell faced few repercussions in the Legislature. And Republican legislative leaders declined to comment about the case.
But on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said the move to pull the committee positions from Grossell was politically motivated.
"Speaker Hortman is removing a Minnesotan with more than 12 years of law enforcement experience who was shot in the line of duty and has suffered permanent health consequences as a result of his service keeping Minnesotans safe," Daudt said in a statement. "Democrats demand leniency for felons and criminals but do not afford the same courtesy to someone who made a mistake and has spent his career serving the people of Minnesota."