State Senate suspends lawmaker after vaccine exchange

The South Dakota Senate has suspended a Republican state senator in a rare move that stripped her of legislative power while keeping the allegations against her a secret. Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller told reporters earlier Thursday that she was being punished following an exchange she had with a legislative aide about vaccinations. The Republican-controlled Senate voted to form a committee to investigate Frye-Mueller’s conduct and suspend her from voting or holding other rights of an elected official. Republican Sen. Michael Rohl, who initiated the motion to suspend Frye-Mueller, said in a statement that it was based on “serious allegations” and the need to ensure a safe working environment for employees. Frye-Mueller has opposed vaccination requirements in schools.

The Senate Republican leader, Sen. Casey Crabtree of Madison said the legislative punishment was “brought after a lot of serious thought,” but offered little else on the allegations. Another high-ranking Republican, Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, said it was meant to “protect the decorum” of the law-making body.

Schoenbeck removed Frye-Mueller from two committee assignments on Wednesday.


January 27, 2023