MN House probe into Rep. Hamilton allegations inconclusive

Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, speaks to a packed room during a press conference about President Trump’s executive orders regarding immigration at the Minnesota Capitol in January 2017. Evan Frost | MPR News

An internal investigation into state Rep. Rod Hamilton, who was accused of making inappropriate advances on a young woman earlier this year, did not result in any discipline for the eight-term legislator.

The House released a summary of the investigation Friday, nine months after the allegations first surfaced. The full investigation was not made public because it contains private personnel data, according to the summary.

In April, Emily Schlecht reported to St. Paul police that Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, invited her back to his St. Paul apartment during a snowstorm. She was at the Capitol advocating for a sexual violence center in Bemidji, Minn.

While at his apartment, Schlecht said he kissed her on the cheek, stroked her arms and face and repeatedly asked her to lay down next to him.

At the time, Hamilton said it was a misunderstanding, and no charges were brought by police.

The incident cropped up just as the House approved a new sexual harassment policy that included a broader definition of sexual harassment, including third parties, or non-legislators or staff, as well as “legislative business” that happens off the Capitol grounds. The Hamilton allegations triggered an investigation.

But in the summary of the report, House staff concluded that it could not be determined whether Schlecht ever engaged in anything that could be defined as legislative work. “It is not entirely clear how the House policy applies to this situation,” the report read.

The summary did suggest the House better define “sound judgement” by members, as well as consider allowing ethics investigations to go forward even when lawmakers are not in session. The investigation cost more than $38,000, according to the summary.

Hamilton is not the first legislator to be accused of sexual harassment. Last December, Republican Rep. Tony Cornish and DFL Sen. Dan Schoen resigned over multiple allegations of harassment while they were in office.

The House also launched an investigation into allegations against Cornish, but since he resigned before it was completed, there was no discipline. The report was not made public in that situation either.

Hamilton was re-elected to the House this fall, but his party lost the majority.

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