Outside investigator to look at Senate harassment case

The Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul
An outside investigator will look at how DFL leaders responded to a staffer’s allegations she was sexually harassed by another staffer.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

The Minnesota Senate will hire an outside investigator to determine whether people or policies failed a former staffer who said she was sexually harassed.

Senate Secretary Cal Ludeman told lawmakers Thursday that he will initiate the process, which he said would take weeks to sort through. 

Senate DFL lawmakers requested the independent investigation after one of their former aides said her complaint against an ex-legislative staffer didn’t result in a probe.

The situation involves a former aide to a senator who said she was harassed by another legislative staff member. That person previously worked in the state House and as a campaign operative for Minority Leader Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury.

While the man accused of harassment was dismissed by Kent’s campaign and eventually fired by the House, no formal inquiry was conducted by the Senate. The man alleged to have made unwanted advances denies doing anything wrong; he is a relative of state Sen. Jason Isaacson, DFL-Shoreview.

Senate Republicans said they support the review of the incident and the broader anti-harassment policy, which was recently revamped but might not cover the kind of circumstance that happened in this case.

"Senate Republicans support an independent investigation into the claims made by a former staffer to determine whether Senate policy was followed, whether individuals in power took responsible actions to stop harassment, and what changes may be necessary to ensure this does not happen again,” a statement from Republican Senate leaders said. “The claims made by a former staffer were difficult and heartbreaking to learn about. 

The incident has caused tensions among Senate Democrats who have questioned whether their leaders did enough to protect the aide from harassment.

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