Publicly Oley Larsen Says He Won’t Resign, but Privately He’s Asking His Fellow Senators for Their Opinion

Sen. Oley Larsen (R-Minot) speaks to members of the House Finance & Taxation Committee in 2015. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

This morning embattled state Senator Oley Larsen (R-Minot) apologized for falsely claiming that Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is a terrorist trained by al Qaeda.

He specifically said he was not apologizing to Omar, though, and he also said that he doesn’t intend to resign his position. “I’m willing to own my role in spreading misinformation but I will not be resigning any of my positions within the North Dakota State Legislature,” he wrote.

In response Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) has reiterated his call for Larsen to resign his leadership position:

Larsen’s statement is at odds with an email he sent to his fellow Senators this afternoon in which he asked for their input on whether he should resign as president pro tem of the Senate.

Here’s what he sent, as provided to me by one of the lawmakers who received the message:

You have to wonder how much Larsen actually respects the input he’s soliciting given that he’s already said, publicly, that he’s not going to resign any of his positions in the Legislature.

Meanwhile, I’m told there is a meeting with Larsen planned for the next day or so, though apparently, Larsen hasn’t been much more communicative with Republican leadership than he has been with the news media covering the story (for my part, I can say that Larsen still hasn’t responded to my inquiries). The topic of the meeting will be Larsen’s original posts, his subsequent “apology” (if you can call it that), and whether he ought to continue in his leadership position.

There is a process through which the Senate can expel a member, though using that in this instance is unlikely and unwarranted. Stripping Larsen of his leadership position is good enough. If his constituents want to go further, they can use the recall process.

For better or worse, except in the most extreme of circumstances, better that sort of decision come from the voters.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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