Senate could vote Thursday to oust Molnau

MnDOT Commissioner
MnDOT Commissioner Carol Molnau could be ousted from that position this week. The state Senate will vote on on her confirmation as early as Thursday.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

The Minnesota Senate has tentatively scheduled a vote on Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau for Thursday that could cost Molnau her job.

DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller would not fully commit to holding the vote, but he has informed the governor's office and several Democratic and Republican senators to prepare for the debate.

DFL Senate leaders have repeatedly said that Molnau does not have the votes for confirmation and would effectively be fired when the vote occurred.

Pogemiller said he's been talking with senators about removing her in an orderly and dignified fashion.

"There's no urgency. On the other hand, I think members are just at the point where they'd like to bring some closures to things and focus on other issues," Pogemiller said.

Pogemiller said he would have a better sense of whether they would take up Molnau's confirmation by Thursday morning.

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GOP Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem said he was told to prepare for the vote. He said the timing is problematic, especially after the veto override earlier this week.

"This will taint the session in a negative sort of way, if it's not off to a rocky start already. This will put boulders in the path of the legislative session as we proceed forward," Senjem said.

Molnau, who also serves as lieutenant governor, has been the transportation commissioner since 2003.

Critics say she has mismanaged the department.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty's spokesman, Brian McClung, said in a statement that Pawlenty won't fire her.

"Lt. Gov. Molnau has indicated repeatedly that she will not be resigning. The Senate has the authority to confirm or not confirm her as commissioner and that decision has been in their hands for more than five years," McClung said in the statement.

Pawlenty said earlier this week that he was preparing a list of candidates, acknowledging that Molnau's tenure as commissioner is about to come to an end.

The Senate action will have no bearing on her role as lieutenant governor.