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Swanson stands by running mate, despite pressure from liberal groups

Lori Swanson

Rick Nolan criticized over handling of sex harassment accusations against a top aide.

Posted: Jul 20, 2018 6:22 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lori Swanson stood by her running mate, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, on Friday despite pressure from liberal groups to dump him over his handling of a top aide accused of sexual harassment, and her campaign suggested that her political rivals had a hand in raising the allegations.

The online news site MinnPost reported Thursday that Nolan's legislative director, Jim Swiderski, was allowed to leave quietly in 2015 rather than be fired over the alleged sexual harassment of several young female staffers. Swiderski was then hired by Nolan's re-election campaign months later, which Nolan now acknowledges was a mistake.

Liberal groups, including TakeAction Minnesota, DFL Feminists and Land Stewardship Action, called on Swanson to drop Nolan or for him to quit the race, while Swanson's opponents in next month's close three-way primary issued sharply critical statements urging Swanson to speak out.

After more than 24 hours of silence, Swanson campaign spokeswoman Ruth Stanoch suggested that Swanson's primary opponents, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz and state Rep. Erin Murphy, are trying to exploit the matter for political gain. She said some of the women in the MinnPost story have links to their campaigns.

"It is unfortunate that candidates who are behind in the polls seek to exploit this matter for their political advantage," Stanoch said.

In an accompanying statement, Nolan made the same point but said that doesn't diminish the fact that the harassment was wrong, and he apologized to the women.

Swanson's brief statement noted Nolan's apology and said he "has fought for gender equality throughout his entire career." She said sexual harassment would have no place in her administration.

Swanson, the state's attorney general, shifted abruptly to the governor's race last month two days after she lost the endorsement for another term as attorney general at the party's state convention, and announced Nolan as her running mate the same day she announced her candidacy.

MinnPost reported that the staffers, who requested anonymity to protect their careers, said Swiderski frequently made inappropriate comments. One said Swiderski groped her often.

Months after Swiderski left, Nolan's re-election campaign hired Swiderski to work remotely. Joe Radinovich, who was Nolan's campaign manager in 2016 and is now running for his seat in Congress, told the AP on Thursday that he promptly fired Swiderski when he learned of the allegations.

Murphy said earlier Friday that Nolan "enabled and protected a predator."

"Engaging in sexual harassment or sexual assault — or sweeping it under the rug — is unacceptable. Lori Swanson's silence reveals a troubling lack of leadership at a moment that demands it, especially from someone seeking to serve all Minnesotans as our next Governor," Murphy said in a statement.

Walz tweeted that "the predatory behavior" in Nolan's office was "an inexcusable failure of leadership."

TakeAction Minnesota , which endorsed Murphy, staged a demonstration outside Swanson's Capitol office on Friday.

"This is what the #MeToo movement is all about. Women are breaking the culture of silence that perpetuates sexual harassment in the workplace," Elianne Farhat, the group's program director, said in a statement.

DFL Feminists also called on Nolan to drop his bid for lieutenant governor, and later tweeted that the campaign's statement was an "empty" non-response "that shows that they are not treating this with the compassion and decisiveness that it deserves."

Land Stewardship Action, which has not endorsed anyone in the governor's race, issued a statement calling on Nolan to resign from Swanson's ticket and for Swanson to address "the issue of gender injustice in our society."

Republicans also chimed in.

"The lack of response from Lori Swanson and her campaign team regarding accusations of sexual harassment against Rick Nolan's staff member and close friend is inexcusable, and a direct reflection on the type of leadership she would display if elected as Minnesota's next governor," state party spokeswoman Rachael Grooms said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 25208

Reported Deaths: 1060
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8514616
Ramsey3075128
Stearns203013
Nobles15445
Anoka142970
Dakota134957
Washington64532
Olmsted63410
Kandiyohi4971
Rice4622
Scott4362
Clay42728
Mower3452
Wright3202
Todd3190
Sherburne2462
Carver2182
Benton1783
Steele1600
Blue Earth1420
Martin1325
Freeborn1250
St. Louis11814
Pine890
Unassigned8810
Nicollet8810
Winona8015
Cottonwood760
Watonwan750
Carlton750
Crow Wing712
Otter Tail700
Goodhue683
Chisago621
Polk612
Lyon570
Itasca5510
Dodge530
Chippewa511
Morrison470
Meeker450
Douglas440
Le Sueur441
Becker400
Murray390
Jackson390
McLeod370
Isanti350
Waseca260
Rock220
Swift190
Mille Lacs191
Pennington190
Faribault190
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Beltrami150
Cass142
Norman130
Marshall120
Pipestone120
Kanabec111
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Koochiching90
Pope90
Aitkin80
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Big Stone60
Lincoln50
Redwood50
Renville50
Red Lake40
Grant40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Houston20
Hubbard20
Roseau20
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19669

Reported Deaths: 555
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4236133
Woodbury276136
Black Hawk174745
Linn95379
Dallas91623
Marshall89616
Buena Vista8100
Johnson6149
Wapello59712
Muscatine55741
Crawford5282
Tama40327
Scott36110
Dubuque34619
Louisa34511
Sioux2830
Pottawattamie2698
Jasper26017
Washington1898
Wright1780
Warren1350
Plymouth1332
Allamakee1204
Story1161
Mahaska9510
Poweshiek908
Henry711
Bremer696
Des Moines651
Boone650
Clinton641
Taylor560
Clarke560
Guthrie513
Cedar481
Benton431
Hamilton430
Webster421
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones360
Clayton343
Osceola340
Buchanan330
Iowa330
Marion320
Cherokee310
Jefferson300
Cerro Gordo291
Madison292
Lee270
Fayette270
Monona250
Winneshiek240
Lyon240
Davis230
Harrison230
Dickinson210
Sac200
Grundy200
Mills190
Floyd191
Humboldt181
Clay170
Delaware171
Hardin170
Butler171
Lucas170
Emmet160
Hancock160
Appanoose143
Ida140
Page140
Franklin140
Keokuk140
Pocahontas130
Greene130
Howard120
Cass120
Audubon121
Jackson120
Carroll110
Winnebago110
Chickasaw100
Kossuth100
Adair90
Van Buren90
Union90
Montgomery80
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Fremont40
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
Rochester
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