In a move that caught most people in the environmental community by surprise, Susan Thornton has reportedly been fired as director of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).
Nancy Gibson, the co-chair of the LCCMR, was told that Thornton had been fired from the director’s job, according to Minnesota Public Radio. The LCCMR makes recommendations to state lawmakers about how to spend proceeds from the Minnesota Lottery on environmental projects like land acquisition and environmental education.
Kevin Watterson, the House GOP communications director, told PIM that Thornton is still employed at the Legislative Coordinating Commission, which is the umbrella group that oversees joint House and Senate panels like the LCCMR.
Thornton’s attorney Vince Louwagie said she was informed verbally by the Legislative Coordinating Commission (LCC) that she was going to be losing her job. But Louwagie, pointing to Minnesota Statutes Chapter 3.305, said he questions whether the Legislative Coordinating Commission has the authority to terminate Thornton. He said the LCC covers panels that are “exclusively” made up of House and Senate members. The presence of citizen members means that the LCCMR “is not that kind of animal” and authority over its personnel would reside with LCCMR members.
“I don’t think she’s employed by the Legislative Coordinating Commission. I think she’s employed by the LCCMR,” Louwagie said.
PIM contacted a number of people who work on environmental issues as lobbyists, legislators or staffers in Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration, and all said they were unaware of the news. Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, who is co-vice chairman of the LCCMR, said he was not aware of Thornton’s firing either.
Thornton became director in 2008.