State senator set to resign

ST. PAUL — Democratic state Sen. Dan Schoen will resign following a string of sexual misconduct allegations, his attorney said Tuesday, marking the first resignation from a recent tide of sexual harassment accusations in Minnesota politics.

Attorney Paul Rogosheske told the Star Tribune Schoen would announce his resignation and address the allegations during a news conference today. The 42-year-old first-term senator had faced widespread calls to resign from his Cottage Grove-area seat since allegations of sexual harassment first surfaced earlier this month.

The allegations against Schoen range from unwanted advances on a House candidate via text, to sending photos of male genitalia to a female staffer in the Senate.

Lindsey Port, a Democratic House candidate in 2015, said Schoen commented on her buttocks at a party event before grabbing it and saying he could tell she was good at door-knocking because of her rear end.

Schoen had called some of the allegations false or said his actions were taken out of context. And he indicated he would fight a looming ethics investigation and the calls for him to leave the Senate, hiring an attorney.

The apparent reversal follows a private meeting between Schoen, Rogosheske and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, their first since the allegations of Schoen’s improper conduct were reported by online news site MinnPost and Minnesota Public Radio News.

“He doesn’t feel he can be effective anymore,” Rogosheske told the newspaper. “And he doesn’t want to work in an environment like this.”

Port, among the first to come forward publicly with allegations about Schoen, stressed that she was not overjoyed that he was set to resign. Port ran unsuccessfully for a state House seat in 2016.

“I am glad, though, to see that we have been able at least in this instance to hold people accountable. I’m hopeful that this is just the start,” she said.

But she and Rep. Erin Maye Quade, a freshman Democrat who has accused Schoen and others of sexual harassment, bristled at the suggestion by Schoen’s attorney that Schoen would not admit wrongdoing.

“Worse than the harassment is that the men who harass me won’t acknowledge that their behavior is wrong,” Maye Quade said. “One senator’s resignation doesn’t change the culture. I want to change the culture.”

Schoen was not alone in facing calls to resign following allegations of improper conduct.

Republican Rep. Tony Cornish has faced repeated calls since MPR News reported a pattern of his alleged sexual misconduct at the Capitol during his eight terms in office. It includes texts to Quade, who said he wrote that he was caught staring at her because she “looked too (expletive) good.” An unnamed female lobbyist, who requested anonymity due to fear that the allegations could impact her career, told the radio station Cornish had propositioned her for sex dozens of times and once forced her into a wall in an attempt to kiss her.

Cornish faces an outside House investigation.

COMMENTS