Rick Nolan faces call to resign after sexual harassment claims against ex-staffer

An activist group is calling on Nolan to step down from the gubernatorial race.
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Rep. Rick Nolan is facing calls to resign as the running mate to gubernatorial candidate Lori Swanson after claims of sexual harassment were made against his former legislative director.

The congressman, who is stepping down from the 8th District this year but is now running alongside Swanson for the DFL nomination in this year's governor race, is facing pressure following the publication of this MinnPost article on Thursday.

The article reveals several women who used to work for Nolan have accused his former legislative director, Jim Swiderski, of sexual harassment – including repeated groping in one instance.

Swiderski was allowed to resign his post in summer 2015 rather than face disciplinary action, but then was hired to do remote work for Nolan's 2016 re-election campaign.

In a statement on Thursday, the Pioneer Press reports Nolan said he has "zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior" in the workplace, though admits in hindsight it was a mistake to re-hire Swiderski for his campaign.

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While he hasn't been reached directly, Nolan's chief of staff Jodie Torkelson told MinnPost that Swiderski denies the allegations.

Nonetheless, Nolan is now facing calls to step down from the progressive organization TakeAction Minnesota, which is backing Swanson/Nolan rivals Erin Murphy and Erin Maye Quade in the race for governor.

"We call for Rep. Nolan to step down from running for statewide office with Lori Swanson. Responsible public leaders don’t minimize sexual harassment—period," TakeAction executive director Dan McGrath said.

"Rep. Nolan is running to represent our entire state. It’s 2018. This kind of leadership is toxic. It’s not the future we want. This is not who we are as Minnesotans."

In a later statement released by Nolan, he suggests that the timing of the accusations are politically motivated.

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