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Minnesota Senate majority leader 'regrets' relationship with Senate staffer Koch apologizes after stepping down from post

Former Senate Majority Leader

ST. PAUL - Former Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch says she is sorry for being in a relationship with a Senate employee.

"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," Koch said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon.

The Buffalo Republican said her resignation last Thursday and Friday's revelation that it followed Senate employees complaining about an inappropriate relationship "have been very difficult for me and those close to me. It is important that I spend time now focusing on the challenging days ahead as I work through some very personal issues."

The male staffer has not been publicly identified other than he reported directly to Koch.

In her Wednesday statement, Koch admitted to making "some mistakes and errors in judgment for which I am deeply sorry by engaging in a relationship with a Senate staffer. While I have not violated any laws or Senate rules, nor misused any state funds or property, I want to express my deep regret and apologies to my constituents, the Republican Party, my fellow legislators, friends and most importantly, my family."

Minnesota Public Radio reported that Cullen Sheehan first reported the relationship to Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina. Sheehan resigned as Koch's chief of staff to become a lobbyist following his talk with Michel.

The MPR report indicated that Sheehan talked to the employee, who confirmed the relationship, and then with Koch, who also confirmed it.

On Friday, Michel and three other Senate leaders said they only had learned about the allegations in "recent weeks," indicating it was more recent than three months ago. On Wednesday, he told MPR that he purposely misled reporters so they could not identify Sheehan as one to report the improper Koch relationship.

There has been talk that Koch should be brought up on ethics charges for having a relationship with an employee under her supervision.

A senator who would sit on the committee to decide an ethics complaint released a statement earlier this week critical of Koch.

"Our employees deserve to work in a place that does not tolerate inappropriate behavior," said Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria. "I do not condone these wrong doings and will insist on the proper sanctions."

Ingebrigtsen is one of several senators who have indicated they are thinking about running to replace Koch in a vote on Tuesday of the GOP Senate caucus.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.