Minnesota Dems step-up for demands for Air Force vet turned Senator to resign after her burglary arrest

So far, Mitchell has refused to step aside

Ariana Baio
Monday 03 June 2024 23:12 BST
Members of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota are calling on Nicole Mitchell (right) to resign after she was arrested and charged with burglary
Members of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota are calling on Nicole Mitchell (right) to resign after she was arrested and charged with burglary (AP)

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Louise Thomas

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Minnesota state Senator Nicole Mitchell is facing increased calls to resign from her own party after the Air Force vet turned Senator was busted allegedly breaking into her stepmother’s home.

Chairman of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party, Ken Martin, issued a statement last week, calling on Mitchell to resign “to focus on the personal and legal challenges she faces.”

“The Minnesota DFL believes that all elected officials should be held accountable, including members of our party,” Martin said. “While Sen. Mitchell is entitled to her day in court, her continued refusal to take responsibility for her actions is beneath her office and has become a distraction for her district and the Legislature.”

In April, Mitchell was charged with burglary after breaking into her stepmother’s home to retrieve her father’s ashes and items of “sentimental value”, a probable cause document obtained by CNN said.

Minnesota state senator Nicole Mitchell
Minnesota state senator Nicole Mitchell (Becker County Sheriff's Office)

However, Mitchell disputed that in a Facebook post, claiming she was checking on a family member with Alzheimer’s.

So far, Mitchell has refused to resign – though she has been stripped of her committee assignment and cannot attend caucus meetings. That has proved to be controversial since Democrats have a one-vote majority in the state legislature at the moment.

DFL state Senator Heather Gustafson told reporters on Monday that her colleague was entitled to due process but she should resign to protect the rest of the caucus.

“I’m thinking about our caucus, and no one person is more important than the work that we can do while we have the majority,” Gustafson said.

Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy similarly said that she “hopes” Mitchell will “step aside” given the party’s current needs.

Mitchell was elected to represent the District 47 in 2022. Prior to her political career, Mitchell was a meteorologist and military officer. As a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard, Mitchell commanded the 126th Weather Flight known as the “Hurricane Hunters.” She flew into several notable storms including Hurricane Katrina.

Not all of Mitchell’s colleagues believe she should step down.

Four DFL state senators believe calls for her resignation are “premature” and “appear to be driven by political considerations.”

“We should handle criminal charges against an elected member of the Senate as we have handled such charges in the past. In all previous cases, when a member has been charged with a criminal offense, the Senate has first allowed the courts to complete their process,” the state senators wrote.

“In cases where the courts have convicted the official, the Senate Ethics Committee has then determined what, if any, Senate actions are appropriate on top of the legal penalties.”

Michell’s attorney, Bruce Ringstron Jr. told The Star Tribune she will continue to serve her constituents for the time being.

"Sen Mitchell has heard from many in her community who support her work and believe in her right to due process under the law," the statement said. "Therefore, until her criminal case is fully and finally adjudicated, Sen. Mitchell will continue to serve her constituents as the duly elected state senator from District 47."

The Independent has reached out to Mitchell’s office for comment.

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