Statement on State Senator Mitchell’s Participation in Legislature

MINNESOTA The following is a statement from Common Cause Minnesota Executive Director Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera on the ethical questions surrounding Senator Mitchell’s continued participation and voting in the Minnesota Senate.

“The principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty is an important one. Whether Sen. Miller’s actions fall within the scope of improper conduct falls squarely within the authority of the Senate Ethics Commission. 

“It is for that reason that we urge the Ethics Commission to move more quickly to give all parties a just hearing before removing any voting power from a member of the legislature. Senator Mitchell’s constituents deserve representation during the legislative session, and it is unfair to strip them of representation unless a decision from the Ethics Commission or legal conviction occurs. If Senator Mitchell feels like she has lost the public’s trust due to her recent actions, she can always choose to resign. This matter deserves transparency and fair hearings, not political gamesmanship on any side to try to gain or retain power.

The Minnesota Legislature has the authority to govern the ethical conduct of its members. This authority falls under Article IV, Section 7 of our state constitution giving both chambers the power to address “disorderly behavior” and expel a member with a two-thirds vote. What constitutes disorderly behavior is defined in each chamber’s Standards of Ethical Conduct. The 2023-24 Temporary Rules of the Senate states, “Improper conduct includes conduct that violates a rule or administrative policy of the Senate, that violates accepted norms of Senate behavior, that betrays the public trust, or that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor or disrepute.”