Sen. Dan Schoen is facing renewed calls to resign after an employee of the state Senate reported that he sent her an unsolicited sexually explicit photograph.
Schoen, a DFLer from St. Paul Park, has been under scrutiny after allegations last week from a DFL state representative and a one-time DFL candidate that he sexually harassed them. On Tuesday, Ellen Anderson, an employee of the Senate DFL Caucus, filed a report with the Senate human resources office alleging that, in May 2015, Schoen sent her a photo of male genitalia via Snapchat, the mobile messaging app.
Anderson — who is not the former DFL state senator of the same name — said in a lengthy statement released to the press by the Senate DFL that she initially assumed Schoen’s message amounted to what she called a “one-time error in judgment.” But after other allegations against him surfaced, she said she realized the problem was more extensive and that she should come forward.
“I felt it necessary to speak out because it is evident to me that Sen. Schoen has a pattern of inappropriate sexual interactions with colleagues and staff,” Anderson said.
Schoen’s attorney, Paul Rogosheske, did not immediately return voice or e-mail messages on Tuesday evening. Schoen said last week that the allegations from two other women, Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, and Lindsey Port, a DFL candidate for the state House in 2015, were false or taken out of context. The two women said Schoen made inappropriate comments, repeatedly made unwanted advances and in one case, grabbed Port from behind.
Schoen is an officer with the Cottage Grove Police Department, where he was reassigned to administrative duties following the allegations.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, on Tuesday renewed his call, first made last week, for Schoen to resign from the Senate. Other prominent DFLers including Gov. Mark Dayton also called for Schoen to resign.
“My number one priority is to ensure that our staff have a safe working environment,” Bakk said, adding that Anderson’s story “further illustrates a pattern of behavior by Dan Schoen that is inappropriate and unacceptable.”
Bakk said he plans to discuss the matter with Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, who said last week that the allegations likely would be taken up by the Senate’s ethics subcommittee if Schoen refuses to resign.
Anderson, who filed the latest complaint, said she and Schoen were friends and often exchanged messages via text or Snapchat. But she said the photo sent to her in 2015 “crossed the line.”
Meanwhile, leaders in the House have contracted with a St. Paul firm to launch an outside investigation into claims of sexual harassment and misconduct by another lawmaker, Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center. Maye Quade and a female lobbyist have accused Cornish of sending inappropriate and unwanted messages. The lobbyist said Cornish tried to kiss her, pushed her against a wall, and repeatedly propositioned her for sex over the course of several years.
Cornish has denied the allegations.