Some Minnesota Republicans are calling on House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) to resign from the Minnesota House after he accepted a position with a lobbying firm while still serving as a legislator.
Stateside Associates, a Virginia-based government relations firms, announced Daudt’s hiring in a press release last week, saying his work will be part-time and won’t involve any lobbying. The firm represents a number of massive corporations, including McDonald’s, Delta, General Motors, Starbucks, and Comcast.
The Republican lawmaker has been criticized by colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as The Minnesota Sun reported. They think his dual roles will open him up to “conflicts of interests” and accused him of selling his access to state lawmakers.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), leader of the New House Republican Caucus, said in a Monday statement that Daudt needs to step down from one of the positions.
“We have a House rule against legislators being lobbyists. Rep. Daudt is betraying the public’s trust by directing lobbying activity for a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm that sells access to multinational corporations while also holding an election certificate. He needs to decide which master he is going to serve—the public, or the paymaster,” said Drazkowski. “It’s unethical for a legislator to sell access to other legislators and yet this is what he will be doing according to the job description.”
Stateside Associates explicitly stated in its press release that Daudt will avail the company’s clients of his “access to elected and appointed leaders and officials in all 50 states gained from his nine years in the Legislature and in national leadership positions.”
Drazkowski said Daudt needs to either resign his House seat or “give up the conflicting position.”
“Representative Daudt is not the first legislator to be faced with conflicting financial, personal, and public service obligations. Many others have recognized the conflict and made the right, sometimes difficult choice. I urge members of his caucus to think about those folks and compare it to what their leader has done,” he added.
Rep. Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg), also a member of the New House Republican Caucus, appeared on the Sue Jeffers Show Saturday and suggested that Daudt should resign.
“He has influence. He has access, and what he’s going to be able to do through this lobbying firm is peddle that,” Miller said. “He can do what he wants, OK? He can do what he wants, but he can’t do it as the leader in the Minnesota House of Representatives.”
“This is influence and access peddling of its worst kind and I’m kind of embarrassed to be a Republican, but I can tell you I’m part of the New House Republican Caucus. If you want to know why we left the bigger caucus, you don’t have a better example than this,” he added. “He’s not my leader and this is why we left.”
A third member of the New House Republican Caucus, Rep. Cal Bahr (R-East Bethel), said the optics are “horrid” during an interview with Jeffers.
“While he says he’s not going to peddle influence, it’s almost impossible not to do that in some form or fashion,” said Bahr. “This reeks of cronyism. This is everything that’s bad about the Republican Party.”
Bahr said some of his colleagues in the House Republican Caucus are frustrated with Daudt’s decision because they think it will make it more difficult to take back the House next year.
“All I see when I look at this is personal aggrandizement,” he concluded. “This is not for the greater good of Minnesota. This is not for the greater good of his district, and it’s not for the greater good of the Republican brand or Republicans in the Minnesota House.”
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