Pressed about her lack of support for an amendment that would close loopholes for offshore tax havens, a Minnesota Republican dodged the question in favor of talking about her religious beliefs.
Minnesota Rep. Abigail Whelan, a second-term House legislator from suburban Ramsey, was responding to a question from Democratic Rep. Paul Thissen early Wednesday morning about whether she thinks “benefiting people who are hiding money in Liberia is worth raising taxes on your own constituents.”
Whelan ignored the question and instead sounded off about her religion.
“It might be because it’s late and I’m really tired, but I’m going to take this opportunity to share with the body something I have been grappling with over the past several months, and that is, the games that we play here,” she began, leaving the tax haven discussion in the dust. “I just want you to know, Representative Thissen and the [Democratic] caucus — I forgive you, it is okay, because I have an eternal perspective about this.”
Whelan went on to make a case that happiness is not to be found in good public policy, but rather in the eternal love of Jesus.
“I have an eternal perspective and I want to share that with you and the people listening at home that at the end of the day, when we try to reach an agreement with divided government we win some, we lose some, nobody is really happy, but you know what, happiness and circumstances — not what it’s about,” she continued. “There is actual joy to be found in Jesus Christ, Jesus loves you all. If you would like to get to know him, you’re listening at home, here in this room, please email, call me, would love to talk to you about Jesus, he is the hope of this state and this country.”
Even though she didn’t address the issue when Thissen posed the question to her, Whelan did take a stance on it. She later voted against the amendment to close offshore tax loopholes. Not a single Republican voted for it, and the amendment was defeated in a party-line vote.
Whelan’s faith has played a major role in her policy-making career.
In 2016, Whelan co-authored Minnesota’s version of an anti-trans bathroom bill that would have barred transgender people from using the bathroom matching their gender identity in public areas and their workplaces, according to The Column.
During a radio interview in April of last year, Whelan characterized society’s growing tolerance for LGBTQ people as “entering into an era where good is called evil and evil is called good.”
“When you go through life and you are transgender and you end up having an operation, those folks they are depressed,” she continued, oblivious to the role played by the type of social stigmatization she supports.
“The gender fluidity movement is one the biggest problems we are facing and it’s bringing about a lot of confusion,” she added. “I would also encourage folks to keep praying because we all know the battle is spiritual.”
Last year, Whelan also championed a bill to withhold $14 million from the University of Minnesota unless researchers stopped using fetal tissue from aborted fetuses in medical research. The measure didn’t become law, but it had a negative impact on the university nonetheless, as the Star Tribune reported. The discussion of the bill in the House led the university’s top choice to lead its medical discovery team to turn down the position, writing to the university that the legislative debate “reminded us of the many risks inherent in moving our family.”