WASHINGTON (CNN) – The legal battle for Minnesota's Senate seat may be far from over, but Democrat Al Franken isn't waiting for a resolution: on Monday, he announced his first Senate staff hire.
Franken said that Alana Petersen, a former staffer for Minnesota Rep. Jim Oberstar, will serve as his state director - even though the Democrat's election has yet to be certified. "I want Minnesotans to be able to rely on me for assistance with the federal government. Whether it's a Social Security check, a small business loan, or help for a returning veteran, my office will be there for the people of our state," Franken said in a statement. "Drawing on her wealth of experience and her ability to reach out to every constituency in Minnesota, when I have the privilege of being certified, she'll work with me to ensure that we hit the ground running on Day One."
State GOP chair Ron Carey derided the move as a "publicity stunt."
"This is another shameful episode of disenfranchising voters from Al Franken, and his disrespect for the constitutional rights of all citizens. While the due process and equal protection rights of our fellow citizens are being denied, Al Franken is determined to thumb his nose at the Minnesota Supreme Court," he said in a statement.
Monday's announcement comes exactly a week after a three-judge panel declared Franken the winner of the Senate race over Coleman, by a margin of 312 votes. Republican Norm Coleman has vowed to file an appeal of the decision with the Minnesota Supreme Court.