Koch apologizes for relationship with Senate staffer

by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter

Former Republican Senate majority leader Amy Koch of Buffalo on Wednesday (Dec. 21) expressed her “deep regret” to her constituents, Republican Party members, and her family for engaging in a relationship with a Senate staffer.

This is the first statement from Koch about the relationship since the senator abruptly resigned her leadership post late last week, unleashing a scandal that enveloped the Senate Republican Caucus.

“I have made some mistakes and errors in judgement for which I am deeply sorry by engaging in a relationship with a Senate staffer,” said Koch in a statement.

Koch goes on to say she has not violated any laws, Senate rules, nor misused public money.

“I regret more than words can express the hurt that I have caused to the people that I love, and to those who have worked and served with me over the past years,” said Koch in the statement.

“The events of recent days have been very difficult for me and those close to me. It is important that I spend some time now focusing on the challenging days ahead as I work through some very personal issues,” Koch concludes.

Koch did not indicate in the statement that she intended to resign her Senate seat.

Koch was the first woman elected Senate Majority Leader in Minnesota history and played an integral role in the Republicans retaking control of the Senate after almost 40 years of Democratic control.

In comments to the media last week after tendering her resignation as Senate Majority Leader, Koch cited a desire to spend more time with her teenage daughter, interest in the private sector, and other reasons for the abrupt resignation.

But Republican Senate leaders the following day after media reports of an inappropriate relationship surfaced in a hastily called press conference explained that they had confronted Koch last Wednesday night with reports made to them by Senate staffers of an inappropriate relationship.

Koch’s apology comes less than a week from a scheduled meeting of the Republican Senate Caucus for next week, called for the purpose of electing a new Senate majority leader.

Senate Republicans will gather Tuesday in St. Paul for the election.

One Republican senator, Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville,  seen as a potential candidate for the leadership post, bowed out today.

“I have made a decision not to run for Senate majority leader.  I am confident this is the right decision,” said Thompson in a statement, indicating he would support the candidate with the skills to unify the caucus and build on past accomplishments.

If Koch remains in the Senate she faces the possibility of an ethics complaint being filed against her.

The Koch matter is just one of two scandals confronting the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Recently, former GOP state party chairman Tony Sutton abruptly resigned his post, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.

Subsequently, news surfaced that the party is deeply in debt — potentially over $1.2 million, said Minnesota Republican National Committeewoman and former state auditor Pat Anderson recently.

Anderson, who is engaged in sorting the party’s finances,  explained she believed Sutton had been trying to depict party finances in better shape than they actually were.

Republican Party officials will gather in St. Cloud later this month to pick a new state party chair.