When the Senate voted last June to convict lying killer Jason Ravnsborg and remove him from the Attorney General’s office, only a handful of Senators cast dissenting votes. Among the dissenters were Senators Joshua Klumb, Jack Kolbeck, Ryan Maher, and Al Novstrup. Klumb, Kolbeck, Maher, and Novstrup voted nay on the first article of impeachment, saying that killing a man while doodling with one’s phone and driving is not grounds for removing an elected official from office. Novstrup voted nay on the second article of impeachment, saying that lying about that killing and abusing one’s office to avoid accountability for that killing are not grounds for removing an elected official from office.
Yet on Thursday, Klumb, Kolbeck, Maher, and Novstrup all voted to suspend their fellow Senator Julie Frye-Mueller from the Senate and convene an investigation that could lead to her permanent removal from office.
We don’t know what Julie Frye-Mueller did. All we’ve been told by the Senate Majority Leader is that a conversation with a Legislative Research Council employee allegedly turned into “unprofessional behavior“. The Senate Majority Leader further contends that Frye-Mueller has made “inconsistent” statements about that conversation.
Frye-Mueller did not kill anyone. No one has presented evidence that Frye-Mueller caused any harm, physical or emotional. Frye-Mueller may be lying—she has already changed her story from saying on Thursday that the conversation was not about covid vaccines to acknowledging Saturday that the conversation included discussion of vaccines. But Frye-Mueller has not been charged with, let alone pled guilty to or been convicted of, any crime. There is a report from the offended LRC staffer on the interaction in question, and Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck says that report will be considered this week at an open hearing of the Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion, but none of the information from that report is public yet.
When the Senate tried Jason Ravnsborg, it had hundreds of pages of publicly available evidence, including damning video of Ravnsborg’s questioning by police, plus crime scene photos too gruesome to share with the public, along with sworn testimony that Ravnsborg had abused his office during the investigation of his killing of Joseph Boever. This body of evidence and testimony was gathered over the 21 months that elapsed between Ravnsborg’s fatal crash with Boever on Highway 14 on September 12, 2020, and the Senate trial on June 21, 2022.
This enormous body of evidence of deadly offense did not persuade Senators Klumb, Kolbeck, Maher, and Novstrup that Jason Ravnsborg deserved removal from his elected office. The accompanying evidence of Ravnsborg’s subsequent misconduct swayed Klumb, Kolbeck, and Maher to convict and remove Ravnsborg, but Novstrup remained unswayed and voted to let Ravnsborg remain in elected office.
Yet all four of these men, acting on far less evidence of a far less serious offense, are willing to kick a woman out of the Senate.
Maybe instead of getting into an offensive conversation with the as-yet unnamed LRC staffer, Frye-Mueller should have just run her over with her car after work on Highway 14. She might have won a few more Senators’ support in Thursday’s vote.