Rule 56 of the Permanent Rules of the Minnesota Senate outlines the standards of ethical conduct members are to follow. In the first section, 56.1, it reads as follows:
“Members shall adhere to the highest standard of ethical conduct as embodied in the Minnesota Constitution, state law and these rules.”
While that language sounds very official, the truth is that the Minnesota Constitution, as powerful a document as it is, contains nothing which addresses ethical conduct of legislators. Nor does Minnesota state law.
In the end, ethical conduct of legislators appears to be self-regulated with the voters having the ultimate power to replace any legislator who, in their opinion, fails to practice ethical conduct. Perhaps that’s how the founders intended our system to work.
Let me be clear about where I stand.
- I’ll follow the Golden Rule and treat others, especially those with a different political or policy position, as I would like to be treated.
- If honored to serve as your State Senator, I will at all times strive to ensure my word will be my bond.
- I’ll work hard to get beyond the strict ideology of Republican vs. Democrat or liberal vs. conservative that prevents meaningful discussion of the issues with an eye on compromise. This means putting the needs of Senate District 20 above the needs of political party.
- I’ll do my best to tell you where I stand and why I take that position.
- We won’t agree on every issue, but I’ll respectfully listen to your position and work hard to learn why you’ve come to a conclusion different from mine.
- I’ll work just as hard for Democrats (or members of any or no political party) as I do for Republicans.
Politics is an important part of our American and state history, but the pursuit of political goals should never overshadow the virtues of kindness, charity and humility. As your State Senator, I’ll work hard to make sure they never do.