Lawmakers plan lawsuit against senators who removed Frye-Mueller

A group of South Dakota state lawmakers announced Thursday that they have filed a criminal complaint against the senators who voted to remove Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller (R-Rapid City) last month.
Sen. Tom Pischke (R-Dell Rapids) and Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller (R-Rapid City) address media at a...
Sen. Tom Pischke (R-Dell Rapids) and Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller (R-Rapid City) address media at a press conference about a criminal complaint Pischke filed against the senators who voted to suspend Frye-Mueller last night.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 6:21 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D.- Almost a month after Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller (R-Rapid City) was suspended from the State Senate, supporters are filing a lawsuit against those who voted to remove her.

That’s according to a criminal complaint provided by Sen. Tom Pischke (R-Dell Rapids), one of Frye-Mueller’s most ardent supporters during the senate proceedings against her.

“I believe that state statute was violated,” Pischke said during an impromptu press conference Thursday.

Pischke and supporters point to South Dakota Codified Law 2-4-7.

That law reads “every person who intentionally, by intimidation or otherwise, prevents any member of the Legislature of this state from attending any session of the branch of which he is a member, or any committee thereof, or from giving his vote upon any question which may come before such branch... is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.”

27 state senators voted last month to suspend Frye-Mueller, after allegations of misconduct with a legislative staffer came to light. In addition, Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) removed Frye-Mueller from her committee assignments, which the Rapid City area lawmaker has not been readded to since. Frye-Mueller was reinstated to the senate three legislative days after her removal.

Now, all 27 state senators are named in the criminal complaint filed.

In a statement, Schoenbeck called Frye-Mueller and her husband’s behavior “far beyond normal.”

“Nobody gets away with that kind of perp behavior. She should be embarrassed, and once again, she ignores the law,” the statement said.

“What we have seen here was not appropriate at all,” Frye-Mueller said. “The rights of District 30 to representation are still being violated and that is not acceptable.”

Frye-Mueller’s husband Mike Mueller, who was involved in the controversy that resulted in the suspension, shared with Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory that over 100 nearly identical criminal complaints would also be filed. Frye-Mueller provided a link to a website, where anyone can “file an affidavit to protect your rights and Julie’s.”

Pischke said that he intends to file the lawsuit at the Hughes County courthouse before the end of the week.