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Rep. Kahn Files Ethics Complaint Over Alleged Screaming Incident

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) filed an ethics complaint Monday against Rep. Dennis McNamara (R-Hastings), alleging that he accused her of conniving with a Minneapolis park board lobbyist and screamed at her so loudly the shouts could be heard across the Capitol building.

"In my entire time in the Legislature, I've never felt as threatened and domineered as I did on that afternoon," Kahn said in a statement.

The complaint alleges that McNamara's conduct on May 16 violated the House's ethical rules, specifically in regards to "treating everyone with respect" and using the Capitol's facilities "only to advance the common good."

It calls for McNamara to be reprimanded and disciplined.

The complaint details the screaming incident, stating that it happened when Kahn and Brian Rice, a Minneapolis park board lobbyist, went to McNamara's office to discuss changes he made to the park board's budgeting. The two also wanted to dispel the belief that the park board was engaging in political payback against McNamara by not doing as much business with his family's nursery.

It was when discussing his family's business that McNamara is alleged to have become extremely agitated. The complaint states he accused Kahn and Rice of being deceitful and conniving, and then he became "red in the face, rose to his feet, and began screaming for them to get out of his office."

The complaint said that Rep. John Persell (D-Bemidji) heard the screaming and came out of his office, thinking he had to break up a fight.

In the statement from her office, Kahn said she told House Speaker Kurt Daudt about the incident two days after it happened. She added that she reached out to him on two other occasions, hoping the matter could be resolved with an apology, not an ethics complaint.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, McNamara said he would like to apologize to Kahn.

"In the heat of the moment, I reacted in a way that I now regret," he said.

McNamara explained in the statement that prior to the meeting he'd been told by a DLF lawmaker that a park board lobbyist had threatened to take away business from his family if an old earmark for the North Minneapolis Regional Park were to be repealed.

McNamara thought the threatening lobbyist was Rice, and he said his words during the meeting were directed at him, not Kahn.

It was only after the meeting, McNamara said, that the unnamed DFL lawmaker told him that the threat to his business came from a different park board lobbyist, Maryanne Campo.

McNamara also said that Rep. Dennis Smith (R-Maple Grove) attended the meeting with Kahn and Rice.

In a statement, Smith said that he never felt that McNamara's comments were directed at Kahn, adding that McNamara didn't approach her in a threatening manner.

The Speaker of the House has a week to refer Kahn's complaint to the House Ethics Committee.

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