ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP/WCCO) —A Democratic state senator has filed an ethics complaint against Republican Sen. Geoff Michel over his handling of allegations of infidelity against former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch.
"I do think he owes us an apology," said Sen. Sandy Pappas, who filed the complaint Monday. "There should be a public apology on the floor of the Senate for lying."
The complaint says Michel "betrayed the public's trust" by making false statements in a news conference about when he first learned of an affair between Koch and a subordinate employee. Michel later acknowledged the discrepancy but said he was trying to protect people involved.
"Senator Michel clearly wasn't honest," said DFL Senate Leader Tom Bakk. "When it actually came out he lied about when he had knowledge of it."
Koch resigned as majority leader after Michel and other senators confronted her. The employee, Michael Brodkorb, was fired and is threatening to sue the Senate.
Reporters asked Bakk why an ethics complaint wasn't filed against Koch. He replied, "Senator Koch has already paid a significant price...I think in her personal life and her life here at the legislature as a leader."
On Monday afternoon, Michel released a statement: "This is about politics and payback and has nothing to do with ethics. The DFL wants a few more headlines. The conflict of interest has been resolved. The workplace environment has improved. And, we did this while protecting whistleblowers and staff. I have asked for an immediate hearing to resolve this matter.""
Michel announced recently he isn't running for reelection to his Edina-area Senate seat.
Senate Majority Leader David Senjem said he doesn't think Michel did anything wrong deserving of an ethics complaint. But the top GOP senator said the matter will have to be handled carefully.
"I don't know how public this can be given the pending lawsuit," Senjem said. "That's for lawyers to decide."
By rule the ethics committee now has 30 days to schedule a hearing on the matter.
"If Senator Michel would publicly apologize on the Senate floor and respond to the issues in the complaint then I would seriously consider withdrawing my complaint," Pappas said.
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