Politics

Rick Nolan Retained Staffer on Campaign Payroll After Harassment Allegations

Three former female employees have alleged former legislative director Jim Swiderski sexually harassed them

Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., above, retained former legislative director Jim Swiderski on his campaign payroll in 2015 even after Swiderski resigned from his congressional office amid sexual misconduct allegations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just months after dismissing his top legislative aide in 2015 for multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Rep. Rick Nolan hired the aide to work on his 2016 re-election campaign.

Three former women employees for the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor congressman told MinnPost, which originally reported this story, that Nolan’s legislative director, Jim Swiderski, repeatedly harassed — and in some cases groped — them in the early- and mid-2010s.

Five other former employees corroborated the three women’s accounts to the newspaper.

In the summer of 2015, after employees had brought Swiderski’s alleged inappropriate behavior to their superiors’ attention, Nolan’s two highest-ranking aides, chief of staff Jodie Torkelson and district director Jeff Anderson, allowed Swiderski to resign his post without facing disciplinary consequences.

Just a few months later, Nolan’s campaign hired Swiderski to work on his 2016 re-election bid.

Torkelson, the chief of staff, claimed responsibility for personnel decisions in Nolan’s official congressional offices, she said in a statement to MinnPost.

Swiderski denied the allegations against him, but Torkelson nevertheless “separated [him] from the office” in June 2015 after reviewing the staffers’ complaints.

Nolan expressed regret that his campaign hired Swiderski as a “vendor” even after the former aide had been let go for sexual impropriety and off-putting behavior toward female staffers who were in some cases more than four decades younger than he was.

“In hindsight,” Nolan said in a statement to MinnPost, “the vendor should not have been retained by the campaign committee.”

Nolan didn’t immediately respond to requests from Roll Call.

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