Release: Senate Votes to Discipline Sen. Frye-Mueller


Senate Votes to Discipline Sen. Frye-Mueller

PIERRE—The South Dakota Senate voted today to discipline Senator Julie Frye-Mueller (R-District 30) for conduct unbecoming the Senate in response to accusations of misconduct with an employee of the Legislative Research Council (LRC). The full Senate concurred with the Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion’s recommendation of censure with 33 yea votes and 1 nay vote.

Based upon testimony and their investigation, the Select Committee unanimously determined that Sen. Frye-Mueller engaged in harassment, as specified in Joint Rule 1B-3(2), that the harassment had the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual employee’s work performance and creating an intimidating working environment in the LRC. The Select Committee recommended Sen. Frye-Mueller be censured and disciplined. As a result, Sen. Frye-Mueller’s suspension was deemed appropriate and it was recommended that she should be immediately reinstated to the body. However, as part of her reinstatement, Sen. Frye-Mueller’s interaction with Legislative staff will be limited to the LRC director or his designees for the remainder of the 98th Legislative Session.

“As elected leaders, we rely on our staff to help us legislate effectively and deliver the best policy solutions for South Dakota. As employees, they rely on us for a safe work environment,” said Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree (R-District 8). “I want to acknowledge my Senate colleagues as they conducted themselves professionally throughout this process, listened to all sides of the story, and respected the privacy of those involved. The Senate is ready to move forward and direct our full attention back to the people’s business.”

“The standard of conduct and professionalism for elected officials is a high one, especially with our Legislative staff,” said Sen. David Wheeler (R-District 22), chair of the Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion. “Today’s action by the Senate is a strong statement that harassment and intimidation will not be tolerated in this esteemed body. I’m proud of the work of our committee and I want to thank those involved for their due diligence and fairness afforded to all parties.”

“The select committee voted unanimously last night to draft the report to censure, discipline, limit access to staff, and immediately end the Senator’s suspension,” said Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-District 15), vice-chair of the Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion and Senate Minority Leader. “Today the committee voted, again, unanimously to accept that report and send it to the Senate floor. I am pleased that the Senate voted 33-1 to adopt that report. It is essential that our LRC staff have a safe, non-partisan, professional work environment in which to do their work on our behalf.”

Yea votes on final consideration were Sen. Arch Beal (R-District 12), Sen. Jim Bolin (R-District 16), Sen. Shawn Bordeaux (D-District 26), Sen. Bryan Breitling (R-District 23), Sen. Jessica Castleberry (R-District 35), Sen. Casey Crabtree (R-District 8), Sen. Sydney Davis (R-District 17), Sen. Randy Deibert (R-District 31), Sen. Michael Diedrich (R-District 34), Sen. Helene Duhamel (R-District 32), Sen. Red Dawn Foster (D-District 27), Sen. Brent Hoffman (R-District 9), Sen. Jean Hunhoff (R-District 18), Sen. David Johnson (R-District 33), Sen. Joshua Klumb (District 20), Sen. Jack Kolbeck (R-District 13), Sen. Steve Kolbeck (R-District 2), Sen. Liz Larson (D-District 10), Sen. Ryan Maher (R-District 28), Sen. Jim Mehlhaff (R-District 24), Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-District 15), Sen. Al Novstrup (R-District 3), Sen. Herman Otten (R-District 6), Sen. Tim Reed (R-District 7), Sen. Michael Rohl (R-District 1), Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-District 5), Sen. Kyle Schoenfish (R-District 19), Sen. Jim Stalzer (R-District 11), Sen. Erin Tobin (R-District 21), Sen. David Wheeler (R-District 22), Sen. John Wiik (R-District 4), Sen. Dean Wink (R-District 29), Sen. Larry Zikmund (R-District 14).

Sen. Tom Pischke (R-District 25) was the only no vote.



BACKGROUND: On Jan. 25, 2023, Senate leadership was notified of an allegation of unprofessional behavior against Senator Julie Frye-Mueller by a Legislative Research Council (LRC) staff member.

Because of the seriousness of the allegations, Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck

(R-District 5) removed Senator Frye-Mueller from her committee assignments as permitted by Senate Rule S4-1.

On Jan. 26, Senate Republicans received a detailed report from an LRC staff member alleging inappropriate behavior and harassment related to private maternal matters, including childhood vaccines and breastfeeding, which took place in the LRC office inside the State Capitol Building. Senator Frye-Mueller was given an opportunity to speak to the Senate Republican Leadership on Jan. 25. Comments made by Sen. Frye-Mueller in that private discussion were inconsistent with her public statements and the report received from the LRC staff member. Senators voted to suspend Senator Frye-Mueller on Jan. 26 pending a full hearing on the merits.

The Senate adopted rules for the proceedings on Monday, Jan. 30. The Select Committee held a hearing on Jan. 31 to allow both parties involved to present their case. Documents related to this matter, including the draft report and redacted employee statement, are available online at the LRC website.

The Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion was chaired by Sen. David Wheeler (R-District 22). Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D-District 15) was the vice-chair. Other members of the Select Committee were Sen. Jim Bolin (R-District 16), Sen. Sydney Davis (R-District 17), Sen. Helene Duhamel (R-District 32), Sen. Brent Hoffman (R-District 9), Sen. Erin Tobin (R-District 21), and Dean Wink (R-District 29).

9 thoughts on “Release: Senate Votes to Discipline Sen. Frye-Mueller”

    1. Article 3 Section 9
      “Each house shall determine the rules of its proceedings, shall choose its own officers and employees and fix the pay thereof, except as otherwise provided in this Constitution.”
      In other words, if 97% of the legislature votes that she cannot interact with this employee, they have the right to make that a “rule of its proceedings.”

            1. Sexual relationships between consenting adults outside of business hours aren’t house proceedings, but that didn’t do Wollman any good.

              A conversation about legislative matters which deteriorated into a non-consensual confrontation in an office, during business hours, is related to house proceedings.

        1. Except the conversation wasn’t begun under informal pretenses, took place in a work setting, and were between a Senator (and a senators husband) and LRC staff.

          It’s amazing how much JFMs supporters are trying to find technicalities to let her weasel out instead of just saying, “Yeah that conversation was out of line, she shouldn’t have said those things.”

  1. The campaign billboard could be epic; a Holstein cow next to a man with a huge milk stasch and the slogan “Where’s the Milk ?”

    Paid for by Friends against Formula.

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