To the editor:
On Tuesday, Jan. 9, I joined 20 other constituents from Minnesota’s Third Congressional District in throwing an early retirement party for Erik Paulsen. We arrived at his Eden Prairie office with cake, party hats, noise makers, and dozens of pink slips providing reasons for early termination. Recent passage of the tax reform law, avoiding constituents, weak stances on environmental issues and voting against requiring Trump to release his tax returns were among listed grievances.
Attending such an event was out of character and comfort zone for me. Although I like to think of myself as well-informed and tend to be very outspoken on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, I cannot claim to be terribly politically active. I’ve only called Paulsen’s office once, and Tuesday marked my first visit to his office. In fact, it marked my first visit to any representative’s office. Years of frustration with the disconnect between Paulsen’s words and actions and intense dissatisfaction with the current political climate were the driving forces pushing me to attend.
I was taken aback when an office door opened and air freshener was sprayed into the hallway, a few feet from where we were standing. When a member of our group walked over and asked the person spraying if she’d like to join us, the staff person responded that she simply wanted to ‘get rid of the stink’ and closed her door.
I was once again taken aback a few minutes later by a different staffer. Activity was winding up, and a member of our party introduced himself and offered a handshake. The staffer replied with a refusal to shake the man’s hand and a threat to have us removed from the building.
While we were admittedly there to create a bit of spectacle, this behavior from paid congressional staffers crossed a line for me. I’ve only lived here for 17 years, but I can’t imagine referring to us as “stink” and refusing to shake a person’s hand qualifies as Minnesota Nice. I will, however, give them credit for steeling my resolve to unseat Paulsen in November.