Several DFL members of the Minnesota Senate say something happened that rarely occurs. Their phones within the Senate chambers were ringing.
That may seem odd but the phones, according to members, are only supposed to be used by Senate members and staff. But at least six Democrats say they got calls today from unhappy constituents. They were being urged to vote against a $1 billion bonding bill. DFL Sen. Don Betzold of Fridley says he got a call while the Senate was debating the bill.
“I’ve never gotten a phone call like that from the floor,” Betzold said. “I have never gotten a phone call like that from a citizen, a lobbyist, anyone, until today.”
DFL Sen. Terri Bonoff of Minnetonka said she got six calls from constituents. She said the callers said they were contacted by the Minnesota Republican Party and were patched through to their senators.
DFL Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller said the calls are a violation of Senate protocol. He said the phone numbers for the phones are unlisted and are only meant for internal business. He urged the Senate to stop the practice at the end of today’s floor debate.
But it doesn’t look like that will happen. Michael Brodkorb, a spokesman for Senate Republicans who also serves as Deputy Chair of the MNGOP, said he didn’t know the calls were taking place until after the fact. He also said he didn’t give the internal phone numbers to the MNGOP. But Brodkorb defended the practice stressing that the phones are paid for with taxpayer dollars.
“I don’t know that’s it’s problematic,” Brodkorb said. “They’re public phones but I don’t know how often the party is going to do it or not.”
He said it’s up to MNGOP Chair Tony Sutton and MNGOP executive director Ryan Griffin to decide whether the practice will continue.
Question of the day: What do you think? Should members of the Minnesota Senate get calls on the floor?