The Latest: Outside firm to look into harassment allegations
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Latest on allegations of sexual harassment by Minnesota lawmakers (all times local):
Minnesota’s House speaker says an outside firm will be hired to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
Two women came forward this week and said Republican Rep. Tony Cornish sexually harassed them. Cornish has admitted texting one of the women, a fellow lawmaker, but said it was congenial. He denied other allegations that he propositioned a lobbyist.
On Saturday, House Speaker Kurt Daudt sent a letter to Minority Leader Melissa Hortman in which he says that the two agreed to hire an outside firm to investigate the allegations against Cornish.
The letter says the investigation was recommended by the non-partisan human resources department.
The Republican Party of Minnesota issued a statement saying it has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to harassment, but stopped short of calling for an accused Republican lawmaker to resign.
Two women came forward this week and said Republican Rep. Tony Cornish sexually harassed them. Cornish has admitted texting one of the women, a fellow lawmaker, but said it was congenial. He denied other allegations.
On Saturday, Republican Party chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan issued a statement saying sexual harassment is “unacceptable” and she appreciates steps the House and Senate are taking to look into recent allegations. She doesn’t mention Cornish by name or call on him to resign.
When similar allegations were made against Democratic state Sen. Dan Schoen, Carnahan called for Schoen to step down.
The former speaker of the Minnesota House says he confronted Rep. Tony Cornish about rumors of sexual harassment years ago and warned him to stop.
Kurt Zellers was Republican House speaker in 2011 and 2012. In a statement Friday, he said he warned Cornish “in the strongest possible terms” that sexual harassment wouldn’t be tolerated and a complaint would result in discipline.
He called on Cornish to resign.
Cornish didn’t return a call Saturday to The Associated Press. A day before Zellers issued his statement, he told Minnesota Public Radio that legislative leaders had never spoken to him about his conduct.
Two women, including Rep. Erin Maye Quade, came out this week and accused Cornish of sexual harassment. Cornish said his texts with Quade were congenial. He denied other allegations.