'Storm the Capitol' rally in St. Paul

A “Storm the Capitol” rally attracted several hundred pro-Trump supporters in St. Paul on Jan. 6.

Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe is one of six Minnesota Republican lawmakers under investigation for his participation in the Jan. 6 “Storm the Capitol” rally in St. Paul.

The Minnesota House Speaker’s office said Jan. 12 that the investigation into the “Storm the Capitol” rally held in St. Paul would be led by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension with involvement from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, said the House would investigate the involvement of six House lawmakers who attended or spoke at the St. Paul rally, which featured violent rhetoric.

A spokesman for Hortman said the BCA and Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington’s office are conducting a broad investigation, and that any information gleaned could be forwarded to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office for potential criminal charges.

Information about the six lawmakers who attended may also factor into ethics charges, if necessary, the spokesman said.

“You can bet we will fully investigate exactly what was said and done, and whether any of that is worthy of prosecution,” Hortman said Monday during a legislative forum.

The St. Paul rally — which remained peaceful with no attempts to breach the Capitol — nonetheless featured heated words. It later migrated to the governor’s residence, where the Minnesota State Patrol moved Gov. Tim Walz’s son to a different location because of the tense scene.

The Capitol rally featured at least one speaker, Alley Waterbury, a local Republican Party leader from Woodbury, who warned of “casualties.”

Along with Gruenhagen, the other five GOP House lawmakers who attended the rally, some of whom spoke, were: Rep. Susan Ackland of St. Peter; Rep. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa; Rep. Mary Franson of Alexandria; Rep. Eric Lucero of Dayton; and Rep. Jeremy Munson of Lake Crystal.

The Star Tribune reported that Lucero and Drazkowski stoked chants against a state court judge who approved Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon’s agreement to waive witness requirements and extend the deadline for counting mail ballots.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota House Republican Caucus issued a statement saying it condemned “the violence and violent rhetoric at the events in Washington, D.C., and St. Paul on Jan. 6.” Some of the members who signed attended the St. Paul rally, including Gruenhagen.

The New House Republican Caucus similarly issued a statement condemning the storming of the U.S. Capitol, and denied that any violent rhetoric or violent threats were used “while we were present” at the St. Paul rally.

In an email responding to questions about the investigation and his participation at the St. Paul rally, Gruenhagen defended his comments as nonviolent and said he did not regret attending. He also accused Democrats and the media of having a double standard following violent riots in Minnesota this past year.

“Republicans have been consistent in condemning violence, looting and destruction of property, unlike the DFL who are very vocal condemning now but were mostly silent on the violence and anarchy and killings this summer, along with supporting defunding the police," he wrote in an email.

Emails seeking comment from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Public Safety Department were not immediately returned.

The Minnesota Reformer is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to keeping Minnesotans informed and unearthing stories other outlets can’t or won’t tell.

Hutchinson Leader editor Stephen Wiblemo contacted Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen to contribute to this story.