Sarah Walker, Minnesota’s Department of Corrections (DOC) deputy commissioner, resigned Friday after just six months. She’s currently under investigation after someone filed a complaint against her.
“We received complaints about Deputy Commissioner Walker and the investigation has not been completed,” Sarah Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for Minnesota’s DOC said to the Pioneer Press, reporting that Walker was not on leave before her resignation.
Walker issued a statement after her resignation saying she was unaware of the complaint made and any suggestion of wrongdoing was “baseless and purely political.” She also said she wants to seek “reform” opportunities outside of government.
“In my short time as Deputy Commissioner, I have become convinced that my voice and skills are best suited for pushing for wide-spread reform from the outside. There are unique opportunities at the local and national level to advance significant reforms and reduce racial disparities and I feel compelled to contribute to those efforts without encumbrance,” she wrote.
Walker’s resignation continues the shakeup in Gov. Tim Walz’s administration. Last week, Department of Human Services (DHS) Deputy Commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson rescinded their resignation letters after Commissioner Tony Lourey and chief of staff Stacie Weeks quit.
Lourey submitted his resignation letter on Monday to Walz, saying he wanted to “step aside.”
“I believe a new leader is necessary to best execute your vision for human services and continue the critical work of improving the health of Minnesotans across the state,” Lourey wrote to Walz.
The governor told reporters that Lourey told him that he was not the right person for the job and he accepted his resignation. Walz also reiterated that he does not like “drama” and tries to be as “transparent as can be.”
After Lourey’s resignation, Chair of the Senate Health and Humans Services Committee Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) issued a statement thanking him for his service and suggesting “reform” needs to be DHS’s top priority.
Walz named Pam Wheelock acting DHS commissioner this week. She is an experienced administrator who has worked in private and public sectors. Most recently, she was a chief operating officer at Twin Cities Habitat and previously worked in Minnesota’s government as former Gov. Jesse Ventura’s commissioner of finance.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) tweeted his support of Walz’s choice.
“Pam Wheelock is a good interim choice for acting Commissioner of DHS. She has a well-deserved positive reputation on both sides of the political aisle. In crisis, there is an opportunity for reform. Now is the time to clean up DHS.”
Pam Wheelock is a good interim choice for acting Commissioner of DHS. She has a well-deserved positive reputation on both sides of the political aisle. In crisis, there is an opportunity for reform. Now is the time to clean up DHS.
— Paul Gazelka (@paulgazelka) July 18, 2019
– – –