A minor dustup emerged this morning in the state budget battle, when Republicans noted that Gov. Mark Dayton has kept a chef and a housekeeper at the Governor’s mansion on staff during the shutdown, labeling them as essential employees.
But this afternoon, Dayton spokesperson Katherine Tinucci called to say that the chef, Micah Pace, is being paid by the governor out of his own pocket for the duration of the shutdown.
And that was the case from the beginning of the shutdown July 1, before Republicans made a big deal of it, she said. “We just didn’t make an announcement about it then,” she said. (Dayton is not drawing his state salary during the shutdown.)
And housekeeper Michelle Mersereau was kept on the payroll because the mansion, on St. Paul’s historic Summit Avenue, is 100 years old and needs constant care, she said. (The mansion was opened in 1912 as the home of Horace Hills Irvine, a St. Paul lumberman and lawyer.)
“We need to continue with the upkeep and maintenance of the Minnesota state building, even during the shutdown,” she said.
The mansion has been closed to public tours during the shutdown but is expected to reopen as soon as the budget battle is resolved, she said.