PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Suspended Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller, who represents southwestern South Dakota, was in the room for the Senate Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion’s first meeting Monday night but did not speak.
According to a news release from Republican Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree, Republicans in the chamber got a report last week from a Legislative Research Council staff member claiming that Frye-Mueller acted inappropriately with regard to “private maternal matters.” A statement from the unnamed staff member alleges that Frye-Mueller was “aggressive” in a verbal interaction, with the senator saying “you can’t vaccinate your child anymore” and falsely claiming that vaccines will kill the staffer’s baby.
On Saturday, Frye-Mueller said she considered the staff member a friend.
“It’s unfortunate that any misunderstanding that she may have had from my advice, and my intention to help her with her situation in a private and confidential conversation between women,” Frye-Mueller said Saturday.
Frye-Mueller has filed a lawsuit against Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck, a Republican who is the chamber’s highest-ranking member. The lawsuit claims Schoenbeck violated her right to free speech. Republican Sen. David Wheeler on Monday laid out a plan for Tuesday.
“I propose that when the employee is testifying before the committee that it is done in executive session, during which Senator Frye-Mueller and her counsel, the employee’s legal counsel, and any senator may be present,” Wheeler said. “A redacted transcript of the session will then be made and then released publicly.”
That proposal was unanimously approved. Following Monday’s meeting, Frye-Mueller declined to give comment. The select committee can recommend to the full Senate that she be expelled, censured, disciplined or exonerated. The committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday night at 5:00 p.m.
Capitol Bureau reporter Bob Mercer contributed to this story.