Harassment in MN House – Buried Facts and No Action

by Dave Mindeman

The House report on harassment policy after the Cornish cases, finally came out and only a small portion was made public. Once again, the House internalizes its dirty laundry and expects the public to be satisfied.

Remember when Erin Maye Quade, Lindsey Port, and Jamie Becker Finn called for an outside task force to study this situation? Well, maybe you don’t because like everything else in Kurt Daudt’s House, it got tabled, indefinitely, forever.

We need an outside group with some authority. The Cornish look see was assigned by Daudt, released to Daudt, and locked up by Daudt.

At least the general findings were released….

1) Some elected representatives don’t appreciate or choose to disregard the power imbalance between them and staff, lobbyists and others who work in and around the Capitol.

2) No Legislature-wide policy or formal agreements on sexual harassment exist. Instead, the House, Senate and the Legislative Coordinating Commission each have separate policies.

3) When witnesses or potential interviewees in investigations are lobbyists, non-legislative state employees, or other third parties, the House has no power to compel them to take part in an investigation.

4) The House has not sufficiently publicized policies for third parties, including members of the public and lobbyists to make reports of discrimination or harassment.

5) A perception that House members will not be disciplined for violations of the House Policy may chill reports regarding members.

All of that is troubling, but with number two, it is obvious that the MN House does not take any of this seriously. And with number 5, why would there be any incentive to change it?

When these problems first surfaced, there was this sense that finally something would move on this. That the House would have to do something. But because the House continues to block public access to what it knows and keeps internalizing and hiding every bad actor – this subject gets buried with impunity.

We need some sunlight on everything the legislature does. How can we possibly evaluate policy when we are only allowed to see what Kurt Daudt wants us to see?

Change this; change the House; throw the bums out.

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