Dayton Calls for Tightening of Response to Sexual Harassment

November 15, 2017 03:14 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton responded Wednesday to recent allegations of sexual harassment leveled at two state lawmakers by saying he’ll impanel senior agency leaders to conduct a review of sexual harassment policies and procedures. 

Of those who would engage in such harassment, Dayton said, "There's no place for them in the workplace, in government or anywhere else in Minnesota, and we need to do a better job of standing up for those who are being oppressed." 


The governor’s comments come on the heels of sexual harassment allegations in the last week against state Sen. Dan Schoen and state Rep. Tony Cornish.  

RELATED: Minnesota Capitol Staffer Says Senator Sent Her Sexual Image

Multiple women have come forward to accuse Schoen of harassment, including most recently a state Senate staffer who told Minnesota Public Radio Tuesday Schoen had sent her a sexually explicit photo via Snapchat. Despite calls from Dayton and legislative leaders for Schoen to resign, the senator has said he has no intention to do so.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt has said his legislative body has hired an outside firm to investigate sexual harassment claims against Cornish. Those include an allegation by Rep. Erin Maye Quade that Cornish sent her inappropriate text messages.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Dayton said no one can force the accused lawmakers to resign. Asked about Schoen specifically, Dayton said, “To the extent the allegations are true, and with enough confirmations it’s become increasingly very clear they are true, the only honorable thing for him to do is resign,” Dayton said. 

Dayton said different levels of government have varying procedures in place to deal with such allegations. He plans to ask Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Franz, the state’s head of human resource management, and other agency heads to look at how to make uniform those different procedures. He said state agencies need a “consistency of consequence” for sexual harassment.

RELATED: Outside Firm to Investigate Sexual Harassment Claims Against Cornish

“I don’t think (sexual harassment is) limited to politics or to government,” Dayton said. “I think the question is, ‘What are the institutional procedures that are set up to deal with deviant behavior, and how can that be reported in a way that protects … the identity, but certainly the careers of people who have the courage to come forward, and how is there a consistency of response so that there’s a real consequence?’”

He said delegating that responsibility to each agency separately has not worked.

“So we will look at that, and see how we can strengthen (procedures), tighten that up, centralize it if necessary. … We take it very, very seriously, and we’re going to take it very, very seriously over the next months.”


Michael Oakes

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