Frye-Mueller transitions from suspension to censure

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 7:06 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The drama surrounding state Senator Julie Frye-Mueller is over with the senator re-instated, but censured and stripped of her typical access to Legislative Research staffers. However, there remains a difference of opinion as to what transpired and how the investigation into her “inappropriate conversation” with a staffer was handled.

Despite a near-unanimous vote from fellow lawmakers, Frye-Mueller insists no wrong-doing saying the entire process was “politically motivated.”

In a statement, the Rapid City republican said, “If lawmakers can silence me without any due process and by ignoring the law ... why do we make such laws? Their failure to respond to my continued requests clearly appears to be an orchestrated attempt to obstruct my ability to defend myself...”

However, after hearing testimony from both Frye-Mueller and the staffer involved in the incident, republican Senator Casey Crabtree said Frye-Mueller had indeed engaged in “harassment” of a government employee and that the investigation had been fair.

In a statement Crabtree went on to say, “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 33-to-1 vote to censure and reinstate Frye-Mueller came down Wednesday.

During Frye-Mueller’s suspension, she lost her committee assignments and voting power. Now that she’s reinstated, the lawmakers voted to give her a censure rather than an expulsion.

“It’s a formal statement of disapproval in the form of a resolution that has to be voted on by a majority of the legislature, It’s less severe than an expulsion which they did vote on, but I think they rescinded that,” said J.P. Duniphan, former District 33 senator.

Many of the senators chose to rebuke Frye-Mueller citing the safety and comfort of legislative research council staff, and the importance of maintaining a professional work environment.