Motion to expel Minnesota Sen. Nicole Mitchell over felony burglary charge fails

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Senate Republicans on Wednesday attempted to expel embattled DFL Sen. Nicole Mitchell from the chamber Wednesday, in the wake of accusations she broke into her stepmother’s home last month, but that effort failed.

Mitchell’s was the deciding vote on a procedural maneuver to prevent a formal vote on the motion.

Lawmakers are sprinting to the finish in St. Paul as they near the end of the session, but Mitchell’s felony charge still looms large. Republicans previously attempted procedural moves to get her to recuse herself from voting, force her to resign, and accelerate ethics hearings.

This was the first time they tried to expel her. Sen. Zach Duckworth, R-Lakeville, introduced the motion to expel Mitchell.

“I cannot stress to you the importance of the conduct of our members in the Minnesota Senate and what it means to the people of Minnesota—what they’ve been following in the headlines, their thoughts on it, we owe them an answer. We owe them some resolution. They deserve accountability and this is how we can do it,” he said.

Sen. Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato, noted that there has never been a member expelled from the Minnesota Senate. He said decision-making about any disciplinary action should be left to the subcommittee on ethics, which last week moved to delay until after Mitchell’s next court appearance in June.

“There has not been an adequate opportunity for all the facts to come forward,” he said. “That is the very reason the ethics subcommittee has always decided to wait until the criminal process has played out, so that each member who is the subject of the ethics complaint can have their opportunity, can play out the criminal complaint, see how it goes.”

Frentz petitioned the Senate president to consider the motion from Duckworth out-of-order, according to the rules of the chamber. He ultimately agreed, and Republicans did not get enough support to appeal that decision.

Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, decried Senate Democrats, accusing them of “using (Mitchell) in order to pass their partisan agenda, rather than work together with Republicans.”

MItchell’s presence is essential for Democrats in charge of the chamber to move their agenda. She is the deciding vote on major pieces of legislation for their razor-thin, one-seat majority. Mitchell has voted in recent days on bills brought to the floor.

Mitchell has denied any wrongdoing, claiming she was only going to check on a loved one.

Detroit Lakes Police Chief Steven Todd said the alleged burglary and Mitchell’s arrest were caught on body cameras. He said he has seen the bodycam footage, but is prohibited from releasing it by state law.

Her next court date is scheduled for June 10, after the current legislative session ends.  

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