ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s House speaker has suspended the committee chairmanship of state Rep. Tony Cornish after two women accused the lawmaker of sexual harassment.
Speaker Kurt Daudt issued a statement late Thursday in which he called the allegations extremely troubling, and asked the House’s nonpartisan human resources staff to look into the situation. Cornish, a Republican from Vernon Center, had been chairman of the House Public Safety Committee.
Cornish has been accused by an unnamed lobbyist of propositioning her for sex dozens of times and making unwanted advances. That includes once incident where Cornish allegedly tried to kiss her, and another where she says he told her he had a “raging boner” and asked her to look at it.
Cornish tells SMN that while he isn’t a saint, the incidents as described by the lobbyist “never happened, not even close” and are a “damned lie.” Cornish says he never requested sex and he never forced her to look at parts of him.
As far as the text messages that he sent her, Cornish says he was seeking a possible relationship, which never happened.
Meantime, State Representative Erin Maye Quade has detailed how Cornish sent her text messages saying how good she looked and how he got caught staring at her. Cornish says the messages were a poor attempt at humor with a colleague and he apologized for them.
The allegations against Cornish come as several of Minnesota’s top Democrats are calling on state Sen. Dan Schoen to resign after accusations that he sexually harassed women. The Democrat from St. Paul Park says the allegations are false.
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