If you live outside Elysian, Minnesota (pop. 667) and have ever heard of Tom McBroom, it's probably in connection with Diamond Reynolds.
Reynolds was Philando Castile's girlfriend and his company, along with her daughter, at the time Castile was killed by a police officer in Falcon Heights in 2016. It was Reynolds who filmed the moments after Castile was shot by officer Jeronimo Yanez, whom she confronted about what he'd just done to Castile.
In fall 2017, Reynolds settled a lawsuit for $800,000, $675,000 of which came from the city of St. Anthony. (That suburb had contracted its police out to Falcon Heights; Castile's family later agreed to a $3 million settlement.) News that Reynolds would receive a payout for her personal loss and trauma was welcomed by some.
Not by McBroom, a deputy with the Rice County Sheriff's office since 2005, and an Elysian City Council member since 2012. On Twitter, McBroom suggested the money meant Reynolds should be kicked off government welfare, though he suggested her settlement money would "be gone in 6 months on crack cocaine."
Asked by another tweeter what made him think that, McBroom replied: "History."
After City Pages wrote about McBroom's stereotyping tweets, his story made the rounds, including in his neck of the woods. He is apparently unconcerned about any political fallout.
Rather than leaving the spotlight, he's seeking higher office. Earlier this month, McBroom filed to run for mayor of Elysian.
McBroom was not interested in discussing his aspirations when City Pages reached out earlier this week.
"That's not true," McBroom said, wondering aloud where City Pages even got the notion he might run for mayor. Before another question could be asked, McBroom said, "I'm on vacation, man," and hung up the phone.
A couple hours later, McBroom changed his tune and tone.
"Sorry to be so short with you," he texted. "Wasn't prepared for your call. Yes, I am a mayoral candidate for my city."
The denial followed by an admission recalled City Pages' first interaction with McBroom, last year, when he first denied being a sheriff's deputy or city council member. "I'm a general contractor," he told us, ducking questions about those Diamond Reynolds tweets. "Wrong person. Sorry."
Confonted with proof he was the same person, McBroom told City Pages he'd lied "just to screw with you." Then he denied ever tweeting about crack cocaine. It was weird.
Weirder still: Back in December, after McBroom's offensive tweets went public, the sheriff's deputy was placed on paid leave by Rice County while an "outside agency" was brought in to investigate his "alleged behavior." That was nine months ago. The net result of that investigation, to date, is nothing.
Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn tells City Pages, "There is no public data available in regards to your request at this time. The matter is still pending."
"Still pending"? How does it take nine months to investigte a tweet? Which "outside agency" is, ostensibly, still trying to crack the case? Has the investigation been delayed by the target's propensity to occasionally deny that he is a county employee/city council member/mayoral candidate/dog-whistle Twitter troll?
We tried to get those questions answered, but the administrator of Rice County was not available to respond.
As for McBroom, he curiously referred further questions about his candidacy to "city hall and the city attorney."
Aside from him, three other people have registered to run for mayor of Elysian, including Pat Nusbaum, a former city adminnistrator, and Shawn Anderson, a current member of the city planning commission.
McBroom is campaigning not only for increased power, but a slight raise. In 2016, the Elysian City Council and current Mayor Clinton Stoen unanimously (3-0) passed a pay increase for their positions. Effective 2017, the mayor would receive a $150 monthly stipend, plus $50 for every "special, emergency, and workshop meeting attended," while council members get $100 a month and $50 per meeting.
McBroom didn't weigh in on the salary matter. He was absent that day.