It’s not hard to see why campaign operatives from both political parties have had Minnesota’s newly drawn Senate District 53 on their radar since day one.
Flanked by almost the entire GOP caucus, Sen. Geoff Michel vigorously defended his handling of the Amy Koch-Michael Brodkorb scandal at a hearing before the Senate ethics panel on Friday afternoon.
DLFers say Michel failed to act quickly enough to restore a “safe working environment” for senators, “betrayed the public’s trust” by reporting an inaccurate timeline to the media and brought the Senate into “dishonor and disrepute.”
It was supposed to be such a nice session. Or at least that’s what Capitol watchers and many lawmakers were expecting after last year’s bitter shutdown fight. Nor was that the only wound still in need of closing.
Minnesota Republicans started the 2011 session having conquered titans. In the Legislature, GOP lawmakers had made a historic 54-seat gain in the House and Senate that fall, a swing that handed them majorities in both chambers for the first time in 38 years.
The 2012 legislative session should be unlike any in recent memory. That’s in part because there is no budget deficit to erase. The surprising December budget forecast — showing a surplus of nearly $900 million — removes the primary point of contention between DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and the GOP-controlled Legislature.
Last year voters in Wisconsin witnessed an ugly campaign for a seat on the state’s Supreme Court between incumbent justice David Prosser and assistant attorney general JoAnne Kloppenburg. Some three dozen outside interest groups spent $4.5 million seeking to influence the outcome of the contest, according to a report by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
Matzek has been serving as interim chief of staff since November, when Cullen Sheehan departed from the position for a lobbying job with Lockridge Grindal Nauen. Matzek previously served as legislative director to the Senate Republican caucus.
In its first year at the helm of the chamber, the Senate Republican caucus has faced two ethics complaints and could be looking at a third in the wake of former Majority Leader Amy Koch’s sudden resignation after being confronted about an inappropriate relationship with a male staffer who reported to her.
Geoff Michel’s short but memorable reign as acting Senate majority leader came to an end last Tuesday when the chamber’s GOP caucus elected a new chief, Dave Senjem, along with a whole new slate of assistant majority leaders. And though his tenure was only 12 days long, the episode has apparently left Michel among the figures most damaged by the upheaval surrounding the resignation of former M[...]
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch sent shock waves through the Capitol complex late Thursday afternoon when she announced that she will not seek re-election in 2012 and that she is resigning her post as Senate majority leader, effective immediately.
Cullen Sheehan is stepping down as state Senate GOP chief of staff to lobby for Minneapolis-based Lockridge Grindal Nauen. The Senate majority's legislative director Kevin Matzek will assume the chief of staff's role.
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