Minnesota Senate grinds to a halt as ethics complaint filed against Nicole Mitchell 

Sen. Nicole Mitchell was charged this week with felony burglary.

Nicole Mitchell, a Democratic state senator from Woodbury, is facing calls to resign her seat in the Minnesota Senate following her arrest Monday morning.

Minnesota Senate Republicans filed an ethics complaint Wednesday against Democratic Sen. Nicole Mitchell, whose arrest this week on burglary charges has upended the legislative session that is scheduled to run for another month.

Mitchell, a first-term senator from Woodbury, was not present in the Senate chambers Wednesday as Sen. Eric Lucero, R-St. Michael, made a motion to compel the Senate Rules committee to immediately initiate proceedings related to the ethics complaint. According to Lucero, the Rules Committee typically has 30 days to begin an investigation.

“Do not let the hyperbole distract from what’s actually at hand here, and what is occurring with this motion. This is a motion that’s very simple, it’s asking for an ethics complaint to be expedited so that the people can get the answers they’re asking for and deserve, nothing more. Nobody’s due process is trying to be violated here, and anybody that would try to convince the public otherwise is doing them a disservice,” Sen. Zach Duckworth, R-Lakeville, explained.

Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, expressed concerns that the Lucero motion would depart from the regular ethics committee procedures and interfere with due process. Latz described the motion as an “unprecedented request to bypass the custom and usage of this body for the ethics committee to handle ethics complaints.”

Republican senators rebutted this argument, saying the Lucero motion simply speeds up the process for effectively administering due process.

Sen. Eric Lucero, R-St. Michael, made a motion to compel the Senate Rules committee to immediately initiate proceedings related to the ethics complaint. (Minnesota Senate Media/YouTube)

“We stand for due process, it is part and parcel of who we are and what our country is based upon,” said Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester. “The motion before us is simply about starting the due process.”

Lucero’s motion was defeated in a 33-33 vote, with every present Democratic senator voting against the motion. Mitchell did not cast a vote.

“Until this morning, we were expecting to take up changes to the permanent rules and several bills, along with a Rules Committee hearing after session to process paperwork. All that has been pulled from the calendar and we are just meeting for a paperwork session. Since there is now plenty of time available in the day, I expect the Rules Committee will take swift action on the complaint,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said in a statement.

In a press release, Senate Republicans said their Democratic colleagues have refused to ask for Mitchell’s “resignation or remove her from committee positions.”

The complaint itself accuses Mitchell of breaking three rules of the Senate.

“Senator Mitchell’s actions not only represent a felonious violation of state law, but they also clearly betray the public trust and bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute. In addition, the public’s trust was blatantly violated when Senator Mitchell published a post-release statement that directly conflicts with statements she made to law enforcement officers just one day prior,” the ethics complaint says.

Minnesota Democrats hold just a one-seat majority in the state Senate. As such, if Mitchell were to be removed or forced to resign from the Senate, Democrats would not be able to pass any legislation without bipartisan support.

Mitchell’s arrest 

Mitchell was arrested early Monday morning in Detroit Lakes after a homeowner reported a burglary.

According to the criminal complaint, officers arrived at a Detroit Lakes home after receiving a call that “somebody had broken into a residence.” Upon arriving at the residence, officers found the adult female who reported the incident, and that adult female said the suspect was in the basement, the complaint says.

When the officers searched the basement, they found Mitchell dressed in black clothing and wearing a black hat, the court filing says. Additionally, the complaint states that a flashlight was found nearby which was “modified so as to control the amount of light emitting from the flashlight.”

Mitchell was placed under arrest, the court filing says. While detained, Mitchell reportedly addressed the adult female who reported the incident, saying, “I was just trying to get a couple of my dad’s things because you wouldn’t talk to me anymore,” the complaint says.

The document also states that officers found a backpack which contained Mitchell’s driver’s license, Senate identification, a cellphone, two laptops, and Tupperware.

After being read her Miranda rights, Mitchell reportedly said, “I know I did something bad.” The complaint also says Mitchell explained that her father had recently passed away, and her stepmother, the adult female who reported the incident, had cut off contact with her and other family members.

Mitchell said she was seeking several items related to her late father including pictures, a flannel shirt, and her father’s ashes, according to the court document. When a police officer questioned Mitchell at the county jail about what got her “to this stage,” the Woodbury senator “indicated that it was her father’s ashes,” the court document says.

A police officer also questioned Mitchell about the laptops, according to the court document. The complaint says an officer presented one of the laptops to Mitchell, the Woodbury senator pressed a button on the laptop, and her stepmother’s name popped up on the screen.

Mitchell was not present in the Senate chambers Wednesday. (Shutterstock)

The court filing says Mitchell claimed she was given the laptop “way back when.” However the stepmother reportedly told a police officer that she “did not give a laptop to Mitchell,” the complaint says.

The complaint indicates Mitchell told police that she left the Twin Cities around 1 a.m. Her arrest occurred around 4:45 a.m.

In a statement released on Facebook Tuesday, Mitchell denied “stealing” and claimed she “startled” a relative with Alzheimer’s when she entered a home she has “come and gone from countless times in the past 20 years.”

Statement released by Sen. Nicole Mitchell Tuesday on her Facebook page

Sen. Nathan Wesenberg, R-Little Falls, said Mitchell must “immediately clarify why her public statement and the criminal complaint are at such variance.”

According to KFGO, Mitchell’s stepmother has applied for a restraining order against her and already sent Mitchell some of her father’s ashes.


Anthony Gockowski

Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and wrote for the Daily Caller.

Luke Sprinkel

Luke Sprinkel previously worked as a Legislative Assistant at the Minnesota House of Representatives. He grew up as a Missionary Kid (MK) living in England, Thailand, Tanzania, and the Middle East. Luke graduated from Regent University in 2018.