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Several lawmakers have asked Sen. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, to resign following reports that he sexually harassed women involved in state politics.
Schoen has said the allegations are false or taken out of context.
MinnPost, which first reported the accusations, said Schoen’s behavior ranged from “persistent and unwanted invitations to meet to physically grabbing a woman from behind.”
In a phone interview Wednesday night, Lindsey Port talked about her encounters with Schoen when she was a first-time DFL House candidate from the Burnsville area in 2015.
Port said she went to a political meet-and-greet event in downtown Minneapolis with other elected officials and candidates. “Rep. Schoen was standing in the group with us,” Port said. “When I said I was door-knocking, he leaned back to look behind me and said, ‘I can tell if a candidate is doing good door-knocking by checking out their ass. And that looks like a good door-knocking ass.’ ”
Said Port, “I just froze. I didn’t know how to respond.”
A few minutes later, Port was waiting to meet Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who was in town for a Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis.
Port said Schoen then came up to her.
“The representative came up behind me and grabbed my ass,” Port said. “He said, ‘Yep, yep. That’s a good door-knocking ass.”
In a statement, Schoen said, “I am hurt by these allegations and take them seriously. I can honestly say they are either completely false or have been taken far out of context. It was never my intention to leave the impression I was making an inappropriate advance on anyone. I feel terrible that someone may have a different interpretation of an encounter, but that is the absolute truth. I also unequivocally deny that I ever made inappropriate contact with anyone.”
MinnPost reported that Schoen made unwanted advances on a House member and then sent her a text message, likely meant for someone else, that said “I almost got her. Working on her pretty hard, but I almost got her.”
On Wednesday night, DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL Rep. Erin Murphy and Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto, among others, all released statements calling for Schoen’s resignation.
Minnesota GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan in a statement called the allegations “explosive” and demanded that Schoen resign.
Bakk called the allegations against Schoen “sobering and disturbing.”
“I have discussed these allegations with my leadership team and we are united in our call for Sen. Dan Schoen to apologize, step aside, and seek care to address these actions,” Bakk’s statement said.
Rep. Paul Thissen, who was the DFL House leader for six years, said in his time as leader — four as minority leader and two as speaker — harassment allegations against two members were brought to his attention. He declined to name the two, citing the Legislature’s confidentiality rules.
Murphy, DFL candidate for governor, called Schoen’s actions “deplorable.” “This abuse of power is harmful to women, to people, and contributes to a sick culture that we must change,” she said.
Schoen was first elected to the House in 2012, and re-elected in 2014. He won his Senate seat in 2016. Along with being a legislator, he also is a police officer. His biography says he is single and has two children.
Star Tribune staff writer Patrick Coolican contributed to this report.