ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Senate overwhelmingly rejected the confirmation of Steve Minn today as head of the merged departments of Commerce and Public Service, immediately removing him from office.
In bipartisan votes, senators voted 44-20 to reject Minn as commerce commissioner and 41-23 to reject him as public service commissioner.
How they voted
Both Sens. Don Samuelson, DFL-Brainerd, and Dallas Sams, DFL-Staples, voted against Steve Minn's confirmation as head of the merged departments of Commerce and Public Service.
Minn watched the debate from the Senate gallery as the vote went against him, making him the first major gubernatorial appointee to face such a rejection in 25 years.
Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine, personally urged his rejection.
''This is not about Mr. Minn's personality. It's not about the governor. It's about honesty and integrity and it's about a breach of ethics that related to me personally,'' Moe said.
Gov. Jesse Ventura appointed Minn to lead the Public Service Department early in 1999. In August, the governor single-handedly merged the Public Service Department with the Commerce Department and appointed Minn to lead the merged agencies.
Minn's personality and the handling of the merger have been major issues in the confirmation process. Ventura and Minn accused the Senate of playing politics with his appointment, using Minn as a tool to rebuke the governor. Senators said Minn was the issue, and that he broke promises and lied to lawmakers.
After the vote, Minn said he would serve without pay for the next couple of days to ensure a smooth hand-off to his deputy.
He said the experience was ''very souring.''
''Public service is an honor and I regret the way the Senate has treated me,'' he said.
Minn also said ''Type A'' personalities who might step on toes should think twice before going into public service.
The incident Moe referred to was Minn's request to leaders of regulated industries that they lobby Moe in favor of the agency merger and Minn's confirmation.
Moe also lamented that the Senate was forced to take a vote.
Moe suggested the Senate could indefinitely delay a vote on Minn if he agreed to resign his post within several weeks. Moe said that would have given the administration time to find a replacement and work on legislative issues while Minn found a new job.
Minn and Ventura rejected the offer.
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