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MN Senate leader Koch apologizes for 'engaging in a relationship'

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politics Hastings, 55033
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

Former Senate Majority Leader Any Koch says she is sorry for being in a relationship with a Senate employee.

"I regret more than words can express the hurt that I have caused to the people that I love, and to those who have worked and served with me over the past years," Koch said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon.

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The Buffalo Republican said her Thursday resignation and Friday's revelation that it followed Senate employees complaining about an inappropriate relationship "have been very difficult for me and those close to me. It is important that I spend time now focusing on the challenging days ahead as I work through some very personal issues."

The male staffer has not been publically identified other than he reported directly to Koch.

In a Forum Communications interview the night she resigned from her leadership post, while saying she would remain in the Senate, Koch said: "I just want to have an opportunity to move on to some other things. I want to spend some time with my daughter. My family is incredibly important to me."

The senator said that since she has been so busy for the past two years, her family was "not available to me."

She made no mention of any improper relationship Thursday night, about 24 hours after four senators told her about employees' complaints. The senators went to reporters Friday afternoon to reveal the allegations.

The senators said Koch herself brought up the idea of resigning, but she did not tell her colleagues before a letter to them and employees was released to the media.

In her Wednesday statement, Koch admitted to making "some mistakes and errors in judgment for which I am deeply sorry by engaging in a relationship with a Senate staffer. While I have not violated any laws or Senate rules, nor misused any state funds or property, I want to express my deep regret and apologies to my constituents, the Republican Party, my fellow legislators, friends and most importantly, my family."

Minnesota Public Radio reported that Cullen Sheehan first reported the relationship to Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina. Sheehan resigned as Koch's chief of staff to become a lobbyist following his talk with Michel.

The MPR report indicated that Sheehan talked to the employee, who confirmed the relationship, and then with Koch, who also confirmed it.

On Friday, Michel and three other Senate leaders said they only had learned about the allegations in "recent weeks," indicating it was most more recent than three months ago. On Wednesday, he told MPR that he purposely misled reporters so they could not identify Sheehan as one to report the improper Koch relationship.

There has been talk that Koch should be brought up on ethics charges by having a relationship with an employee under her supervision.

A senator who would sit on the committee to decide an ethics complaint released a statement earlier this week critical of Koch.

"Our employees deserve to work in a place that does not tolerate inappropriate behavior," Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said. "I do not condone these wrong doings and will insist on the proper sanctions."

Ingebrigtsen said that "the public's trust has been violated" and said he would work to regain that trust.

He is one of several Republican senators who are thought in the running to replace Koch in a Tuesday vote of the GOP Senate caucus.

Earlier Wednesday, Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, announced he will not seek the leadership post.

"I will support the candidate I believe to have the combination of integrity, core principles and administrative skills necessary to move Minnesota's agenda forward," said Thompson, who earlier had been thought to be a leading candidate.

Thompson, a first-year senator, is an assistant majority leader.

Several senators have indicated they are thinking about running, and a few have said they are not interested, but no one has announced he or she is a candidate.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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