South Dakota Republican reinstated after being suspended over bizarre sexual harassment claims
South Dakota state Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller (Legislature image).

South Dakota state Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller was reinstated from her suspension from the legislature — albeit with a formal censure — after strange sexual harassment allegations from a legislative staffer, reported The Daily Beast on Wednesday.

"Frye-Mueller found herself in hot water after was accused of harassing one of her staffers with a string of unsavory comments about vaccines and breastfeeding, including suggesting that she suckle her own husband to get her milk to come in instead of feeding her child formula," reported Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling. Frye-Mueller, a Republican, responded to her suspension from the legislature by moving to file a lawsuit, alleging her First Amendment rights were violated.

The legislature moved to censure her, even as they also voted almost unanimously to restore her to her seat.

“We believe [censure] is enough to appropriately address the matter and to make the statement to all legislators that your conduct with staff members must be above reproach,” said Sen. David Wheeler on the matter. “You must talk with them, and interact with them, professionally. There is no leeway in that.”

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Sexual misconduct allegations are not uncommon in state legislative government throughout the country. In 2018, several state lawmakers in California from both parties were exposed for a variety of sexual harassment allegations, from unwanted touching to the sharing of pornographic material. And in 2021, North Dakota GOP state Rep. Luke Simons was accused of sexual harassment against staffers, interns, and one fellow GOP lawmaker who said she was so creeped out by his behavior she moved her desk to not sit near him.

This also comes as assault allegations are levied against Matt Schlapp, a prominent Republican lobbyist who runs the American Conservative Union, who is accused of grabbing the crotch of a staffer from Herschel Walker's 2022 Senate campaign while they were alone in a car. Schlapp denies these allegations.