Minnesota state Rep. Jim Knoblach drops re-election bid, citing MPR News investigation
Republican state Rep. Jim Knoblach of St. Cloud abruptly ended his re-election campaign Friday as MPR News prepared to publish detailed accusations from his adult daughter of what she described as his inappropriate behavior toward her since childhood.
The announcement came hours after an attorney for Knoblach denied the allegations in an interview. The attorney, Susan Gaertner, said Knoblach "does not want to drag his family through six weeks of hell."
Knoblach, who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, declined to be interviewed after being approached more than a week ago.
In a written statement, Knoblach, 60, called the allegations "indescribably hurtful" and said he would work toward healing his family.
"I love my children more than anything, and would never do anything to hurt them. Her allegations are false," Knoblach wrote. "I and other family members have made repeated attempts to reconcile with her in recent years, but she has refused."
The timing of his exit could make his St. Cloud-area seat, already a top target for Democrats, impossible for Republicans to hold, barring some kind of court intervention or a write-in campaign by a substitute candidate. Knoblach was seeking a ninth term and was being challenged by Democratic candidate Dan Wolgamott, also of St. Cloud.
Knoblach's daughter, Laura, alleges that the prominent legislator inappropriately touched her for most of her life, with her first memories starting when she was 9 years old.
Now 23, Laura said she confided in close friends, family and authority figures at her school and church about the behavior for more than a decade.
Authorities from the St. Cloud police department and Sherburne County Sheriff's Office began an investigation into the claims in 2017. Authorities declined to bring charges. Jim Knoblach wasn't interviewed by investigators, but Gaertner denied the allegations.
After exhausting other means to hold her father accountable, Laura Knoblach made the allegations to MPR News on the record and supplied extensive documentation about her attempts to get help.