Minnesota Sen. Michelle Fischbach (Republican, District 14) confirmed receipt of a notarized letter yesterday from three of her colleagues requesting that the Senate’s ethics subcommittee begin an investigation within 30 days into allegations concerning the conduct of Sen. Scott Newman (Republican, District 18). Fischbach confirmed that she forwarded the request to the ethics subcommittee.
An ethics hearing would center on an e-mail sent from Newman’s Capitol office to the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) on Jan. 20. The MNA had hoped to set up a meeting between Sen. Newman and a nurse that lived in his district. In response, Newman’s legislative assistant Kim Kelley stated that he would not meet with the constituent, because the Minnesota Nurses Association had supported his opponent during his most recent reelection campaign.
Here’s the text of that letter, courtesy of BluestemPrairie.com:
Unfortunately, Senator Newman will not see any organizations that donated to/supported his opponent Hal Kimball. After some careful checking, I discovered that the MNA had donated to Kimball’s campaign. Your association will be unable to schedule an appointment with Senator Newman.
Sen. Sandy Pappas, (DFL, District 65), one of the members requesting an ethics hearing on the matter, offered the following statement:
“Requesting an ethics hearing is a very serious matter, and we spent considerable time reviewing the facts and public comments made by Sen. Newman. We still have many questions regarding this incident, and we hope that a complete and full investigation by the Senate ethics subcommittee will provide Minnesotans with some much-needed answers. The facts are clear: Sen. Newman’s staff sent an e-mail stating the Senator would not meet with individuals or groups who contributed to or supported his opponent during his most recent election campaign. Nobody should feel like they need to pay a toll to gain access to their elected representative. We believe the ethics subcommittee should investigate this incident as quickly as possible in order to restore and maintain the public’s trust in this institution.”
Republican Party chairman Tony Sutton’s response to the ethics hearing request yesterday was swift and blunt. In a news release, Sutton said Newman’s staffer “made a mistake for which the senator accepted responsibility.” He continued that the complaint against Newman is “politically motivated” and “obviously frivolous.”