Yesterday we got some surprising news. Governor Doug Burgum announced that he had accepted the resignation of Commerce Commissioner Jay Schuler after he sent out an email to state employees Burgum described as “unacceptable.”
The email was about the controversy surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. You can read it in full here.
In Burgum’s press release, Schuler expressed regret for sending the email.
“It was an error in judgment for me to send out an email with my personal thoughts and opinions to our Commerce team, especially on such a sensitive topic. I did not mean to offend or create a difficult situation for anyone and I’ve expressed my sincere apologies to the team,” Schuler is quoted as saying. “We have outstanding team members in Commerce who come to work every day with the intent of making the state better for North Dakota citizens, and I appreciate their hard work and commitment.”
Burgum’s statement went out at 3:17pm yesterday. At 5:12pm Schuler sent an email to members of the state’s Economic Development Foundation board in which he says he didn’t feel his original email was offensive, though he did acknowledge he shouldn’t have sent it.
“I sent out an email to the staff this morning. I didn’t feel was offensive, you judge,” he tells the board members. “In hind sight it was a mistake. I work for Governor Burgum and bringing controversy to his administration is not the correct thing to do.”
You can read the email in full below.
I agree with Schuler’s assessment about the email. I didn’t find it offensive either. I’d go so far as to say that Schuler’s position on Kavanaugh is likely the majority point of view in North Dakota.
A state department head playing political pundit by state-issued email to state employees is a bad idea. Schuler had no professional obligation to weigh in, and he shouldn’t have.
That said, was this really worth Schuler losing his job?