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It’s difficult to defend Michelle Fischbach’s decision to attempt to serve as both Gov. Dayton’s Lieutenant Governor and the state senator representing SD-13. How can a supposedly educated woman think that the DFL operatives on the Minnesota Supreme Court will side with her, not with the man who appointed them?

Republicans point to a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling from 1898. At that time, the lieutenant governor was elected apart from the governor. Further, why would anyone think that it’s possible to serve simultaneously in the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch? In March, 2016, I wrote a post titled Is the IRRRB unconstitutional? In that post, I cited an audit report from Jim Nobles, who wrote that “State statutes on IRRRB’s governance structure are vulnerable to a constitutional challenge.”

That’s because the IRRRB’s board is composed of Iron Range legislators who have the authority to appropriate money to specific projects. The IRRRB also is an executive branch agency whose commissioner is appointed by the governor. Simply put, you can’t serve in 2 different branches of government.

Sen. Fischbach should know this. She’s fighting a fight she can’t win. Apparently, she hasn’t figured that out yet. Here’s what she said:

I was elected by the constituents of Senate District 13, and I have a commitment to represent them in the senate.

She ran for and got elected to be the Senate President. Anyone with a bit of understanding of Minnesota’s constitution knows that the Senate President is part of the line of succession to the governorship. If Sen. Fischbach wanted to guarantee that she represent the citizens of SD-13 for the full 4-year term, then she shouldn’t have run for Senate President.

If Lt. Gov. Fischbach cares about the Constitution, she should resign from the Senate this afternoon. The minute Gov. Dayton announces the date for the special election for filling her empty Senate seat in SD-13, she should then resign as Lt. Gov., then immediately start campaigning to regain her Senate seat.

By attempting to wear both hats, she’s causing a constitutional crisis that might hurt Republicans this session and that will cost taxpayers tons of money to pay for the lawsuit that she’ll lose. Apparently, Sen. Fischbach thinks that the Constitution doesn’t apply to her. She’s wrong. She should resign before she hurts her constituents.

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4 Responses to “Michelle Fischbach’s resignation”

  • eric z says:

    Out of curiosity – if Gary or another reader knows – does the Constitution define whether “President of the Senate” must be an elected Senator; or is that left to majority vote of the legislative body? Would Fischbach resigning as President of the Senate keep her holding her district seat, and then, say the majority of the body were to name Gary Gross President of the Senate, etc., etc.?

    I bet you’d welcome the new Lt. Guv paycheck, and be up to the duties Guv Dayton might delegate to you.

  • Rex Newman says:

    I’m with Senator Fischbach on this one. The people of her district should not suddenly lose representation at the Governor’s whim. And if court says otherwise, we can add to list of needed constitutional amendments. Eliminate Lt. Gov., State Auditor, make Atty Gen, Sec. State appointed by Gov, lights on despite vetos…

  • Gary Gross says:

    I’m open to the possibility that there won’t be a lawsuit because I think there’s a pretty decent chance Denny McNamara defeats Karla Bigham & flips Sen. Schoen’s former seat. If that happens, Bakk’s lawsuit is a waste of time because Republicans would have the majority either way.

  • Gary Gross says:

    According to Article IV, Section 15 of Minnesota’s Constitution, “Each house shall elect its presiding officer and other officers as may be provided by law.” It doesn’t say that the person must be an elected senator so I’d think that isn’t a requirement. If it was a requirement, it would be part of that article of the Constitution.

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