Four members of Gov. Tim Walz’s cabinet won’t seek reappointment during his second term, including Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Education Commissioner Heather Mueller.
Both faced criticism from Republicans for their handling of two major crises on Walz’s watch: the COVID-19 pandemic and the Feeding Our Future scandal.
Senate leaders called on Mueller to resign in September after accusing her of making “dishonest” statements about her agency’s efforts to prevent Feeding Our Future and its associates from allegedly stealing $250 million in taxpayer money meant for hungry children.
“As this term comes to an end, I feel like this is the perfect opportunity for me to close this chapter of my life,” Mueller said in a press release announcing the departures.
Walz won reelection to a second term last week over Republican Dr. Scott Jensen.
Perhaps no commissioner faced more criticism than Malcolm, the architect of Minnesota’s response to COVID-19. Senate Republicans publicly flirted with the idea of removing her from her position, as they did with three other Walz appointees.
Walz thanked Malcolm for her “steadfast leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic” and the work she did to “build equity into Minnesota’s public health systems.”
“Working with Gov. Walz and his team to help Minnesota navigate the COVID-19 pandemic was the most challenging and meaningful work I’ve done in my career, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve,” Malcolm said.
Also leaving the administration are Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, who oversaw the agency during the George Floyd riots, and Commissioner of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Mark Phillips.