Sen. Gretchen Hoffman's bogus tweet about mental health "idiots and imbeciles" [VIDEO]

Sen. Gretchen Hoffman twisted Sen. Barb Goodwin's words beyond recognition via Twitter.
Sen. Gretchen Hoffman twisted Sen. Barb Goodwin's words beyond recognition via Twitter.

Republican state Sen. Gretchen Hoffman may be facing an ethics probe, after tweeting that DFL Sen. Barb Goodwin had disparaged the mentally ill as "idiots and imbeciles."

Goodwin said nothing of the sort. She was actually protesting Republican cuts to the Health and Human Services budget yesterday evening, and at one point she reminded her colleagues that they didn't want to return to the days when the mentally ill were treated like society's dreck.

And now there's a trail of video and tweets (below) that show Goodwin's real speech, the fiction that Hoffmann spat out on Twitter, and how her tweet was picked up by the GOP echo chamber.

"The way these state institutions used to be, they were called 'institutions for 'idiots, imbeciles and the insane,'" Goodwin said. "That's what it said right on the hospital, 'idiots, imbeciles and the insane.'"

Sen. Warren Limmer interrupted her to complain about "trips down memory lane" and "labels on hospitals," and then she finished.

"We can't know where w're going until we know where we've been so we don't make the same mistakes again Sen. Limmer, so I hope you understand that."

Here's that video:

Hoffman, either because she's deaf, or a political hack, or both, didn't think twice before updating her Twitter account to completely misrepresent what Goodwin said.

Here's Hoffman's tweet:

Republican Senate staffer Michael Brodkorb, the former deputy chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, then dutifully retreated Hoffman's fiction. (GOP Sen. Kirk Stensrud also retweeted Hoffman's update, but later deleted the tweet.)

Here's Brodkorb's tweet:

Once Goodwin realized what had happened she returned to the Senate floor, visibly shaking and appalled, and declared that "this goes beyond the pale. This is an ethics violations in my opinion, and I expect a public apology."

I have worked with people with mental illness a lot of my life. I have worked with children with mental illness. She clearly -- if she didn't hear me, she better start listening -- that the institutions, the state hospitals, used to be called -- and it was right on them -- the 'institutions for Idiots and Imbeciles and the Insane.' She totally understood what I said. And you know, this is beyond politics. This is just plain mean-spirited. And I expect an apology and I will file an ethics violation.

Here's that video:

Hoffman latter issued a statement to MPR:

I look forward to sitting down with Senator Goodwin to discuss my concerns regarding remarks she made on the Senate floor today during a lengthy debate on Health and Human Services finance bill [sic]. Until I have an opportunity to speak with Senator Goodwin directly and share my experiences as a registered nurse, I have no further comment.

We hope Goodwin gets the ethics probe she wants, but the clock is ticking on the legislative session, and the damage has already been done. As Mark Twain once famously said, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

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