Senator Newman statement on Senate voting not to confirm Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley

Today the Minnesota Senate voted on a bipartisan basis not to confirm Steve Kelley for the position of Commissioner of Commerce, with two DFL members from the Iron Range joining Republicans in the vote. Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson) issued the following statement:

“I am a firm believer in a governor’s prerogative to select his own commissioners, but I also take seriously the Senate’s role in providing advice and consent on those appointments. When a commissioner is clearly not up to the job and other avenues for improvement have been exhausted, it’s the Senate’s duty to make the difficult and somber decision to remove him or her for the good of the state. 

“In Steve Kelley’s case, it became clear there was no alternative. We began hearing negative feedback on Commissioner Kelley’s performance months and months ago. Concerns about the culture at the department. Concerns about regulations being weaponized against businesses. Concerns about his lack of experience in insurance regulation. Concerns about his lack of engagement with the businesses his department was supposed to be working with.

“We brought these concerns to the governor, but there was no improvement. We met with Commissioner Kelley to voice our concerns and reach some understanding, to no avail. When Commissioner Kelley chose to use state resources to mount a legal challenge against another government agency over the improved Line 3 pipeline that would create tens of thousands of jobs – in effect, Minnesota suing itself – it became clear that a change was necessary.”