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ND legislator apologizes for 'Nazi' tweet

BISMARCK -- A North Dakota House member from Jamestown said Thursday she "had a lapse in judgment," when she referred to Rep. Al Carlson of Fargo as a Nazi on Twitter.

Rep. Jessica Haak, a Democrat, was tweeting about the debate on funding private schools during the floor session Wednesday when she tweeted that Carlson, the Republican majority leader, instructed her not to tweet things happening on the floor.

She relayed his instruction in a tweet naming him and using the hashtag "Nazi."

Haak deleted the tweet and issued an apology via Twitter: "The term I used in a previous post is often thrown around carelessly. I regret my error and apologize to Majority Leader Al Carlson."

Carlson said Haak's tweet violates the rules of conduct and was over the line. He asked Haak to issue a formal apology.

"I wanted her to apologize to the full body," he said Thursday afternoon. "We have a set of rules we have to follow."

Haak issued a formal apology in a prepared statement to the House body before any floor action was taken Thursday morning.

"As representatives of the people of North Dakota we have an obligation to treat every aspect of this seat with the utmost respect," she said. "We must respect one another in our deliberations in committee and beyond these walls. Do we falter, yes, and I have had a lapse in judgment and with that, I apologize."

Following her apology, Carlson stood up and noted how difficult it was for her to apologize, "not anyone of us, at some point in time, has said or written something we wish we hadn't done, but this a very special place we get to be.

"We can't let personalities get in the way of policy," he said on the floor. "The comments are well taken and accepted but we need to make sure we do our job, pay attention to the issues we have at hand and have the best interest of the citizens when we vote."

Carlson said Thursday afternoon, "it's a lesson to be learned," adding that he knows many other legislators are using social media sites during the floor session, and the issue may be raised during the interim session when discussing decorum and rules for the floor.