Dem Congressman Accused of Covering up Sexual Harassment

Rep. Rick Nolan / Getty Images
July 20, 2018

Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan (Minn.) faces accusations that he helped cover up sexual harassment allegations against a former legislative director, Jim Swiderski.

MinnPost spoke to eight former employees in Nolan's office; three had specific harassment allegations against Swiderski, including repeated groping. The other five former employees provided corroborating details.

Nolan allowed Swiderski to resign in the summer of 2015 and tell colleagues he was looking for new opportunities rather than make him face formal disciplinary consequences.

Months later, Swiderski was hired to work on Nolan's re-election campaign.

The staffers contacted by MinnPost remain "disturbed" over how Nolan handled the situation, but Nolan's chief of staff Jodie Torkelson claimed responsibility for all personnel decisions in the congressman's federal office.

Nolan said that in hindsight he shouldn't have rehired Swiderski.

A cellphone for Swiderski was not accepting messages Thursday, a Minnesota ABC affiliate reported.

Nolan is not seeking re-election to Congress but is running for lieutenant governor as the running mate of gubernatorial candidate Lori Swanson, the current Minnesota attorney general.

Swanson's primary election opponents have begun attacking Nolan and Swanson based on the allegations.

"Engaging in sexual harassment or sexual assault - or sweeping it under the rug - is unacceptable. Lori Swanson's silence reveals a troubling lack of leadership at a moment that demands it, especially from someone seeking to serve all Minnesotans as our next Governor," said state Rep. Erin Murphy, a Democratic candidate for Minnesota governor.

Minnesota's primary election is Aug. 14