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Fischbach Faces Lawsuit over Senate, Lt. Gov. Roles

January 12, 2018 02:36 PM

Minnesota's new Republican lieutenant governor is being sued for trying to keep her seat in the state Senate.

Senate President Michelle Fischbach automatically became Gov. Mark Dayton's second-in-command this month when Tina Smith resigned the job for a seat in the U.S. Senate. But Democrats vowed to sue Fischbach to force her out of the Senate.

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A constituent from her central Minnesota district (Senate District 13) filed a lawsuit against Fischbach on Friday. It argues it's unconstitutional to hold both offices and that, as a resident of District 13, it would deprive her of representation.

"Despite the domino effect started by Sen. Franken's resignation, my responsibilities as a senator have not changed," Fischbach said in a statement Friday. "I will act as Lt. Governor as the Minnesota Constitution requires, but I remain committed to serving the people who elected me to the state senate."
RELATED: Solicitor General Expresses Doubt Fischbach Could Remain in Senate as Lt. Governor

Plaintiff Destiny Dusosky was chair of the district's local DFL party in 2017.

Fischbach's district could give Democrats a shot at taking control of the Senate. Fischbach says she'll run again if she's forced to resign.

The suit asks the court to declare Fischbach is prohibited from continuing to hold both offices and to issue an order preventing her from doing so.

DFL and Republican leaders in the Senate also offered their reaction to the lawsuit.

"An attempt to hold offices in both the legislative and executive branches at the same time is a clear violation of the separation of powers," Senate DFL leader Tom Bakk said in a statement. "I commend Ms. Dusosky for helping the people of Minnesota get a clear answer from the courts on this obvious conflict of interest. Without Lt. Gov. Fischbach's resignation, Senate votes could be called into question. The constituents in Senate District 13 deserve better.

"I asked the lieutenant governor to consider resigning from the Senate in my Jan. 3 letter, which presented Lt. Gov. Fischbach an opportunity to do the right thing for the people in her district. I have yet to receive a response to my letter."

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, and Fischbach's fellow Republican, issued a statement as well.

"It's disappointing, but not surprising, that Democrats are attempting to force an influential Republican woman out of her duly elected position in the Senate," the statement read. "We offered to resolve this dispute before it started by putting another Democrat in the Lt. Governor position to serve alongside Gov. Dayton. This disappointing lawsuit is simply political maneuvering by Democrats to try to change the outcome of the 2016 election."
RELATED: In Statement, Fischbach Doubles Down on Ability to Serve Dual Roles


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