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Sen. Schoen, Rep. Cornish To Resign Amid Harassment Accusations

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Two Minnesota state lawmakers are set to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Sen. Dan Schoen (DFL-St. Paul Park) plans to step down Wednesday, according to his attorney. And Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) said he will step down on or before Dec. 1.

Both men have been accused of inappropriate behavior by women who have worked with them at the State Capitol.

Cornish is accused by Rep. Erin Maye Quade and lobbyist Sarah Walker of lewd texts and inappropriate sexual behavior. He has called the allegations bogus, but House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Majority Leader Joyce Peppin say they asked Cornish to resign. They released this statement Tuesday:

We asked Representative Tony Cornish to offer his resignation from the Minnesota House of Representatives. Over the last week, it has become increasingly clear his resignation is the most appropriate course of action for him, his constituents, and our institution.

As House leaders, we will continue to take concrete steps to combat misconduct at the legislature and ensure a safe and respectful work environment for legislators, staff, lobbyists, and the public.

Read More: We're Not Going To Take It Anymore': Minn. Lawmaker Details Harassment From Colleagues

Cornish released this statement soon after:

As a proud former peace officer and longtime champion for public safety, I am forced to face the reality that I have made some at the Capitol feel uncomfortable, and disrespected. To those individuals and specifically the unnamed lobbyist , I sincerely apologize for my unwelcome behavior. "I would also like to apologize to God, my family, my constituents, and friends for the mistakes I have made.

After having conferred with family members, friends and advisors, it is with deep regret tonight that I am announcing my intention to resign from the Minnesota House of Representatives. I do so after reaching an agreement in principle with the unnamed lobbyist that has been mentioned. The agreement is basically that I offer the enclosed apology, and resign from my office, on or before December, 1st 2017 and that we both provide each other with a mutual release of any claims against each other now and in the future.

Multiple women have come forward with their stories about Schoen (DFL-Cottage Grove), including Maye Quade, Capitol staffer Ellen Anderson and legislative candidate Lindsay Port.

Read More: Lobbyist Comes Forward, Says Cornish Harassed Her

Paul Rogosheske, Schoen's attorney, told WCCO's Pat Kessler late Tuesday afternoon that his client plans to resign at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Rogosheske says they will also release information refuting the sexual harassment at that conference.

After the announcments, Maye Quade (DFL-Apple Valley) released a statement:

Tony Cornish and Dan Schoen
Rep. Tony Cornish and Sen. Dan Schoen (credit: CBS)

Port also released this statement Tuesday:

It brings me no joy to see Senator Schoen resign, but it does bring relief to see that we can hold people responsible. We have a choice as a society to make the necessary changes to protect people in the workplace from harassment, and I'm hopeful that doesn't end with a few resignations, but with a renewed commitment to stand together and say "No more."

I want to thank Rep. Erin Maye Quade, Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn, Ellen Anderson, and all the women who haven't felt safe enough to share their stories. This is not the end of this journey, and together we can make the changes needed to protect victims and move towards justice.

The resignations of Schoen and Cornish will trigger special elections to fill their seats. It also stops expected ethics committee hearings into the allegations, which could have resulted in penalties up to and including expulsion.

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