House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) caused an uproar Friday when it was announced that he would be working for a lobbying firm as its director of public affairs while still serving in the Minnesota Legislature.
Stateside Associates, a Virginia-based government relations firm, said Daudt’s role will be part-time and won’t involve any lobbying.
“Kurt brings a wealth of political and government experience to Stateside and he is respected by leaders across the country on both sides of the political aisle — he will be a tremendous addition to our team,” Michael Behm, co-chief executive officer of Stateside, said in a press release. “Kurt is a leader, a reformer and coalition builder in Minnesota, and will bring those capabilities and strategic vision to his new position at Stateside.”
His hiring sparked criticism from both Democrats and Republicans who see the move as a conflict of interest.
The New House Republican Caucus, a group of four rogue Republicans who defected from Daudt’s leadership, posted a picture of a notepad with the words “why we left” and “#NotMyLeader” along with a link to a story about Daudt’s new job.
DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin told the local media that Daudt should resign from one of the positions, saying his new job opens him up to “massive conflicts of interest.”
“How can his constituents trust that Daudt is actually acting in their best interests and not those of his lobbying clients?” Martin said.
In a statement, DFL Party Chair Ken Martin says Daudt's new job opens himself up to "massive conflicts of interests." "How can his constituents trust that Daudt is actually acting in their best interests and not those of his lobbying clients?" https://t.co/WVXDzgHGRx
— Briana Bierschbach (@bbierschbach) November 22, 2019
Other Democratic groups on social media suggested that Daudt is selling his access to legislators and can’t be trusted to keep his work in the Legislature from reaching his new partners at Stateside Associates.
and you can totally assume anything you tell him on bills you’re working on won’t get to his partners if you make him cross his heart and pinky swear.
— Indivisible MNLeg (@IndivisibleMNLo) November 22, 2019
The firm’s client list includes several massive corporations, such as Delta, McDonald’s, General Motors, BP, FedEx, Starbucks, Visa, and Comcast.
The Minnesota House has a “ban on lobbying” that prevents former legislators from registering as “lobbyists within one year from the date they leave office.” Daudt, however, hasn’t left office and his work with Stateside Associates isn’t technically defined as lobbying under Minnesota law.
“An individual who provides administrative support to a lobbyist and whose salary and administrative expenses attributable to lobbying activities are reported as lobbying expenses by the lobbyist, but who does not communicate or urge others to communicate with public or local officials, need not register as a lobbyist,” according to Minnesota Statutes.
Daudt defended his new job in a statement provided to The Star Tribune.
“My number one priority is still being focused on my work in the Legislature and serving my constituents and serving as the leader of my caucus,” he said.
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