Senate leaders appoint committee for Frye-Mueller complaint, release more details
South Dakota Senate leaders have appointed a committee to hear a complaint against Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller, R-Rapid City, and have released further details of allegations that led to her suspension.
The new committee could ultimately make a recommendation leading to a Senate vote to expel, censure, discipline or exonerate Frye-Mueller.
A news release Friday afternoon from Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree, of Madison, said Senate Republicans received a detailed report Thursday from a Legislative Research Council staff member alleging inappropriate behavior and harassment by Frye-Mueller. The behavior was initially reported Wednesday and “related to private maternal matters, including childhood vaccines and breastfeeding,” the release said.
Frye-Mueller was given an opportunity to speak privately to Senate Republican leadership on Wednesday, and “comments made by Sen. Frye-Mueller in that private discussion are inconsistent with her public statements and the report received from the LRC staff member,” according to the release.
“We thank the state employee for bringing this matter to our attention,” Crabtree said in the news release. “Our goal is to create a safe work environment for staff and legislators, and an environment where employees feel safe bringing concerns forward. All allegations of harassment must be taken seriously. There will be due process afforded to all parties as this matter moves forward.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck, of Watertown, removed Frye-Mueller from her committee assignments on Wednesday, and senators voted Thursday to suspend Frye-Mueller.
The release said Sen. David Wheeler, R-Huron, will chair a Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion that will convene next week to begin hearing the complaint against Frye-Mueller. The committee will ultimately make a recommendation to the full Senate. The chamber’s rules say the committee could make a recommendation to expel, censure, discipline or exonerate Frye-Mueller.
Except as provided by law, the committee hearings will be open to the public and the final report will be a public record, the news release said.
Senate rules state that adoption of a select committee recommendation to expel a senator requires a two-thirds majority vote by the full Senate, while censure or discipline requires a three-fifths majority and exoneration requires a simple majority.
Senate Appoints Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion