ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - A former Democratic politician is resigning from his six-figure state job amid allegations that he landed the gig because of cronyism.
Joe Radinovich, who ran a failed campaign in Minnesota’s eighth congressional district last year, said he will leave his job as senior policy advisor at the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation on Tuesday.
Radinovich took the job in March after the state circumvented normal practices to hire him, posting the position for less than 24 hours. The move has faced widespread criticism at the state Capitol, and Radinovich said Thursday that he’s become a distraction from work happening at his department.
“Unfortunately the circumstances surrounding my hiring at the agency have taken the focus off of that work and placed it elsewhere," wrote Radinovich in his resignation letter. "It's my intent to refocus the public's attention on the important mission of the IRRR through my action today."
Gov. Tim Walz has distanced himself from the hiring, saying it made him “very unhappy.” Walz said he was changing state rules to require managerial jobs be posted for at least 21 days.
State Rep. Sandy Layman, R-Cohasset, said state law should be changed to enforce the 21-day job posting rule. Radinovich took the appropriate action by resigning, she said.
"This shouldn't happen,” Layman said. "There shouldn't be exceptions made by political hires of this nature and I think people are rightly outraged that something like this was able to happen in Minnesota state government."
Radinovich ran for Congress last year, but lost to Republican Pete Stauber. He’s the second Democratic politician to get a job at the Iron Range Resources agency in the past year: Jason Metsa, who lost to Radinovich in the 2018 Democratic primary, is now the department’s deputy commissioner.
Here is Radinovich's full resignation letter:
I've appreciated the opportunity over the past several weeks to apply my dedication to and passion for good public policy to my work for you at Iron Range Resources. However, today I write to notify you of my intent to resign from the agency.
The agency's strength is its dedicated staff. Everyday, they come together from different backgrounds and different perspectives to apply their talent for the betterment of our region. Their work is what drives our success, and unfortunately the circumstances surrounding my hiring at the agency have taken the focus off of that work and placed it elsewhere. It's my intent to refocus the public's attention on the important mission of the IRRR through my action today.
I ask that my resignation be effective at the close of business on Tuesday, April 30th to ensure the continuity of my work through a brief transition period.
Thank you again, Mark
Senior Policy Advisor to Commissioner Mark Phillips