Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach’s plan to continue serving as a state senator is headed to court.
Destiny Dusosky of Sauk Rapids filed a lawsuit Friday in Ramsey County challenging Fischbach’s contention that she can hold both positions simultaneously. The suit argues that the Minnesota Constitution prohibits the dual role under its incompatibility doctrine and separation of powers. Dusosky lives in Fischbach’s Senate district.
“Dusosky will be deprived of representation in the Minnesota Senate due to now-Lieutenant Governor Fischbach’s attempt to continue to hold office of state senator,” wrote attorney Charles Nauen.
Fischbach, as Senate president, ascended to the office of lieutenant governor when Tina Smith left to become U.S. Senator. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Smith to replace Al Franken, who resigned the seat amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
The complaint asks a district court judge to declare Fischbach’s effort to hold both jobs unconstitutional. It says she should be ordered to give up her senate seat and be prohibited from voting.
Fischbach and other Senate Republicans have said an 1898 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling allows her to hold both jobs. Senate Democrats argue that later changes to the constitution prevent a state legislator from holding another office.
With Republicans holding a narrow majority in the Minnesota Senate, Democrats want Fischbach to resign her seat and give them a chance to win it in a special election.
Fischbach maintains her priority is serving her Senate district constituents. She has declined the lieutenant governor’s salary and has not been sworn in.
Fischbach said in a statement that her responsibilities as a senator have not changed.
“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,” Fischbach said.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka accused Democrats of political maneuvering.
“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,” Gazelka said.
DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk repeated his call for Fischbach to resign her senate seat.
“I commend Ms. Dusosky for helping the people of Minnesota get a clear answer from the courts on this obvious conflict of interest,” Bakk said. “Without Lt. Gov. Fischbach’s resignation, Senate votes could be called into question. The constituents in Senate District 13 deserve better.”