Gov. Mark Dayton said he has not sought information about a lawsuit in which a former deputy commissioner at the Dept. of Commerce alleges he was sexually harassed and then retaliated against.
The lawsuit by Timothy Vande Hey, filed earlier this month, also claims he was subject to retribution for whistle-blowing on what he felt were violations of the state's public records law by the department.
"I have not inquired into it. It's a matter to go through the proper protocol," Dayton said at a Monday news conference.
In addition to the charges of sexual harassment, the lawsuit alleges that in early 2015, Department of Commerce chief of staff Anne O'Connor suggested at a meeting that certain internal documents be destroyed. Vande Hey believed the instruction was against state law, so refused to comply and instructed his staff not to destroy the documents.
Vande Hey reported his concern to the general counsel and directly to Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. No action was taken, the lawsuit said.
Rothman dismissed the lawsuit when it was filed: “My deputy commissioner is an outstanding person, and these allegations are simply false,” Rothman said. “I am confident that the legal process will demonstrate that this suit has absolutely no merit.”
Dayton said Rothman's job invites controversy: "Any time you're involved with regulatory responsibilities, especially in the finanical areas, you're gonna have people who are unhappy and they're going to try to personalize it if they see an opportunity."
Dayton said he has faith in Rothman: "Yes, he has my absolute confidence. I don't have the facts to make an assessment on the allegation raised by this former employee."
Asked if he was curious about the facts of the case, Dayton responded: "I'm curious to see how it turns out, but i'm prepared to let the proper procedures follow their course.