Nelson motion would prevent Senators charged with violent crimes from voting on Senate business

Senator Carla Nelson
2 min readApr 30, 2024

State Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) made a motion on the Senate Floor today to safeguard the integrity of the Minnesota Senate. Sen. Nelson’s motion would have prohibited any Senator charged with a violent crime from voting on Senate business until the conclusion of their investigation and submission of findings.

The move comes in the wake of charges against Democrat Senator Nicole Mitchell for felony first-degree burglary, who also has a Senate ethics investigation pending.

“It is essential that this Senate will stand on integrity,” Sen. Nelson said. “If we were to pass legislation with — and BY — the participation of a Senator under a felony charge, it puts all of our work under a dark cloud. We must uphold the integrity of the body and ensure we are not passing critical legislation with the deciding vote under such scrutiny. The Senate must be beyond reproach.”

The motion was unfortunately rejected by the Senate Democrats, allowing Senator Mitchell to continue voting, despite the serious charges against her.

On Monday, Senator Mitchell notably cast the tie-breaking vote on a critical supplemental jobs finance bill, raising concerns about the influence of a senator currently under a cloud of criminal investigation. “Allowing a senator who is under serious criminal charges to impact critical legislative decisions like this is not only inappropriate but diminishes the trust placed in us by the public,” Senator Nelson added.

Following the passage of the Jobs bill, Senator Nelson and Senate Republicans lodged a formal protest with the President of the Senate. The protest notes, “We protest and dissent against the vote on SF 5289 which was adopted by the Senate with a deciding vote being cast by someone clearly unfit for office. We believe it is an abuse of power by both Sen. Mitchell, the Senate Majority Caucus, and its members.” It was signed by all 33 members of the Republican caucus.

While Senate Democrats have taken half-hearted punishments by removing Senator Mitchell from caucus meetings and stripping her of her committee assignments, their refusal to support a voting suspension pending the resolution of her charges calls into question their commitment to maintaining the Senate’s integrity.