Snafu Silences Senate Ethics Transparency Promise

Senator Michelle Fischbach chairs the Senate Ethics Committee

We may never know for sure what was said behind closed doors as Minnesota Senators weighed ethics charges against one of their colleagues.

In the interest of transparency Minnesota’s Senate Ethics Committee Wednesday night voted to release the audio recording of its executive session where they unanimously voted to dismiss a complaint against Senator Scott Newman. You can hear Ethics Chair Senator Michelle Fischbach make that announcement in video of the short post-executive session meeting we have posted here.

Thursday morning when the Senate Audio Services went to post the executive session recording to its website, there was a problem. The 53-minute recording of the executive session had no audio.

Senate employee Kathy Warrick, who oversees the archiving of Senate audio, says the switch that records the audio was turned on because a recording was made. But apparently someone forgot to turn on the switch that feeds audio to the recorder. Warrick said this is not the first time in the history of the Senate that audio had failed to record, but it was “unfortunate” that it was during such a high-profile closed door session.

Because the committee voted to go into executive session, no media, including the Senate’s own Media Service, were present in the room to make their own recording. It was up to the committee members and their staff to turn on the proper switches.

We attempted to contact Senator Fischbach for information about who was responsible for turning the audio on or off, but our phone calls have not been returned.

Related Links:
Ethics Hearing on Sen. Scott Newman
Ethics Complaint Against Sen. Newman Dissmissed

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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