Rep. Cornish to resign following sexual harassment allegations

Following allegations of sexual harassment, Representative Tony Cornish announced he will be resigning from his position at the Capitol by Dec. 1.

His announcement comes about an hour after the lawyer for Sen. Dan Schoen announced Schoen's plans to resign after sexual harassment allegations came to light.

Rep. Erin Maye Quade told Fox 9 Cornish texted her he got "busted" for looking at her on the House floor because she "looked too damn good." Cornish told Fox 9 the texts were taken out of context and was meant to be a joke between colleagues.

Minnesota lobbyist Sarah Walker formally acknowledged she was one of the women who came forward about Cornish. In a statement posted on Twitter, she stated she was sexually harassed by Cornish. She had originally chosen to remain anonymous in order to avoid "retaliation". 

In a statement, Cornish said he came to an agreement to apologize to Walker for his "unwelcome behavior" and resign from office by Dec. 1. However, his statement did not mention Maye Quade.

Cornish full statement: 

"As a proud former peace officer and longtime champion for public safety, I am forced to face the reality that I have made some at the Capitol feel uncomfortable, and disrespected. To those individuals and specifically the unnamed lobbyist, I sincerely apologize for my unwelcome behavior.

“I would also like to apologize to God, my family, my constituents, and friends for the mistakes I have made. 

"After having conferred with family members, friends and advisors, it is with deep regret tonight that I am announcing my intention to resign from the Minnesota House of Representatives. I do so after reaching an agreement in principle with the unnamed lobbyist that has been mentioned. The agreement is basically that I offer the enclosed apology, and resign from my office, on or before December, 1st 2017 and that we both provide each other with a mutual release of any claims against each other now and in the future."

Statement from House leadership:

“We asked Representative Tony Cornish to offer his resignation from the Minnesota House of Representatives. Over the last week, it has become increasingly clear his resignation is the most appropriate course of action for him, his constituents, and our institution.

“As House leaders, we will continue to take concrete steps to combat misconduct at the legislature and ensure a safe and respectful work environment for legislators, staff, lobbyists, and the public."

Rep. Erin Maye Quade statement:

“People should not approach non-sexual relationships in a sexual manner. Though the concept is uncomplicated enough, in reality, women and girls are still taught at a young age to not only expect but to tolerate certain levels of sexual harassment in professional, academic and social settings. 

"The resignation of two such harassers in the Minnesota State Legislature is not enough to dismantle a pervasive culture of misogyny or to end the sexual harassment of women inside and outside the Capitol. Unless systematic and widespread changes are enacted, these behaviors and subsequent attempts to cover up instances of harassment will continue. 

"This work does not end when my personal workplace sees change. It is imperative we continue this conversation, execute consequences and implement new policies so the server, the scientist, the sales clerk, the teacher, the journalist and the nurse see changes in their workplace, too. This is why I am continuing to push for a task force: to create recommendations to make our State Capitol a safe and respectful place to work, and share these best practices with all organizations across Minnesota."