ST PAUL, Minn. — Gov. Tim Walz's Human Services commissioner has resigned just six months after being appointed.
The governor's office announced Tony Lourey's resignation on Monday without explanation. He leaves just days after two deputy commissioners announced their departures, also without explaining why.
"It has been a great honor to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services," Lourey wrote in his resignation letter. "Ensuring Minnesotans served by the department receive the support they need and deserve in order to lead their best life is my mission and my passion."
But later in his resignation, Lourey explained "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." He did not elaborate on why he was stepping down. Lourey's resignation becomes effective at the end of Monday's work day.
Walz met with reporters to discuss the matter Monday morning and said Lourey resigned because he felt he didn't have the right skill set to continue leading Minnesota's largest state agency. He praised the former state senator for shepherding the agency's budget through this year's legislative session and preventing the expiration of a tax on health care providers that funds health programs.
But Walz said Lourey told him over the weekend that he didn't think he was the right person to continue leading the agency going forward. The governor gave few details on why.
The Governor cautioned against reading anything into the fact that Lourey is leaving immediately rather than with a longer notice. He has announced that Pam Wheelock is taking over as acting commissioner.
Wheelock was commissioner of finance under Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Lourey was a Democratic state senator when Walz named him in January to head up one of the state's biggest agencies. But Human Services has been under fire for its handling of alleged fraud, data breaches and other administrative problems.
Legislative Republicans are calling for an explanation after Lourey's sudden resignation. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says Lourey's departure is a sign of turmoil at the state's largest agency. He says it's "deeply troubling" when coupled with the unexplained departures last week of Deputy Commissioners Chuck Johnson and Claire Wilson.