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Minnesota DFL Party chair, Gov. Walz call for resignation of State Sen. Nicole Mitchell

State leaders call for DFL Sen. Nicole Mitchell to resign
State leaders call for DFL Sen. Nicole Mitchell to resign 02:05

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The top DFL Party official on Thursday called for the resignation of embattled Minnesota State Sen. Nicole Mitchell, 10 days following the end of the legislative session in which Mitchell was an essential vote in the chamber to move bills forward. 

Forty-nine-year-old Mitchell, DFL-Woodbury, was arrested last month and charged with burglarizing her stepmother's Detroit Lakes home.  

In a statement Thursday morning, DFL Chairman Ken Martin said she should step down from her post. The party will hold its state convention in Duluth this weekend.

"The Minnesota DFL believes that all elected officials should be held accountable, including members of our own party," he said. "While Sen. Mitchell is entitled to her day in court, her continued refusal to take responsibility for her actions is beneath her office and has become a distraction for her district and the Legislature."

"Now that her constituents have had full representation through the end of the legislative session, it is time for her to resign to focus on the personal and legal challenges she faces," he continued. 

Through a spokesperson, Gov. Tim Walz agreed with Martin, whose statement follows repeated demands by Senate Republicans for Mitchell to step down after the charges were filed. The allegations against her loomed large over the legislature and in the early days after her arrest, left the chamber at a standstill.

Minnesota State Sen. Nicole Mitchell WCCO

Mitchell was removed from her committee assignments and caucus meetings, but remained the key vote for Democrats to pass their agenda with their one-seat majority, including many last-minute end-of-session bills.

DFL Sen. Majority Leader Erin Murphy told reporters Thursday that stepping down is only Mitchell's decision to make, but the chamber's top Democrat is encouraging her to consider the possibility.

"If I were in her shoes, given what we're facing, and the need for our ability to continue to govern for the people in Minnesota, I would step aside and I hope as I continue to talk with her that she reaches that conclusion," Murphy said.

When pressed about what changed in her thinking from session until now, she reiterated that Michell has a right to due process and that her constituents "had the right to her voice and her representation" during the session. 

Mitchell's attorney, Bruce Ringstrom Jr., reiterated on Thursday morning that she intends to keep her Senate seat.

"Sen. Mitchell has heard from many in her community who support her work and believe in her right to due process under the law," Ringstrom said. "Therefore, until her criminal case is fully and finally adjudicated, Sen. Mitchell will continue to serve her constituents as the duly elected state senator from District 47."

Republicans filed an ethics complaint, but the panel moved to delay actionuntil after her next scheduled court appearance on June 10.  They also sought to expel her from the chamber.

The top Senate Republican, Minority Leader Mark Johnson, in a statement Thursday slammed Democrats for the "shameless pursuit of political power," citing the timing of Martin's public support for her resignation.

"Without new evidence or information in the accusations against Sen. Mitchell, this statement from DFL Chair Ken Martin is a clear admission Democrats were so desperate to pass their highly partisan agenda they were willing to use votes of an alleged burglar to do it," Johnson, the minority leader, said in part.  

The charges against Mitchell

Mitchell was arrested in the early morning hours of April 22 after her stepmother called 911 to report a burglary in progress.

According to the criminal complaint, Detroit Lakes police found Mitchell in the basement wearing black clothing and a black hat. She allegedly had a flashlight with a sock over it and a black backpack that contained two laptops, one of which belonged to her stepmother.

Mitchell told police she entered the home to obtain "pictures, a flannel shirt, ashes, and other items of sentimental value," the charges say. She faces one count of first-degree burglary. 

Mitchell's mug shot following her April 22 arrest Becker Co. Sheriff's Office

"Clearly I'm not good at this," she said, according to investigators, adding, "I know I did something bad."

Mitchell, according to the police account outlined in the charges, told her stepmother during the arrest that she was "just trying to get a couple of my dad's things because you wouldn't talk to me anymore."

The day after the arrest, Mitchell took to Facebook to deny any theft, claiming she was only checking on a loved one suffering from "Alzheimer's and associated paranoia."

 Ringstrom, Mitchell's attorney, in a court filing Wednesday asked the judge to reschedule the hearing to July 1, citing a conflict with another case. 

Attorneys for the state, he wrote, had no objections. The judge has not responded to the request.

Mitchell, who has also been a TV meteorologist and a commander with the Air National Guard, was elected in 2022 and is in her first term.

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