Members of Minnesota’s New House Republican Caucus called for an ethics investigation into House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) in a Thursday letter.
“Leadership matters. Over a year ago, we formed the New House Republican Caucus because Rep. Kurt Daudt had a long history of failed, dishonest, and unethical leadership. Rep. Daudt’s recent acceptance of a high-powered job with a multinational corporate lobbying firm, while continuing to serve and vote in the Minnesota House of Representatives, demonstrates a total lack of ethical behavior,” Reps. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) and Tim Miller (R-Prinsburg) said in a joint statement.
Daudt announced in November that he had accepted a position with Stateside Associates, a Virginia-based lobbying firm, as it director of public affairs. Officials on both sides of the aisle called on Daudt to immediately resign from one of the positions.
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 doesn’t directly involve any lobbying activities, the firm claims.
Stateside Associates explicitly said in a press release announcing Daudt’s hiring that he would 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 and Miller asked House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) to open an ethics investigation to determine whether Daudt’s behavior represents a “legislator conflict of interest.” Additionally, they note that House rules require a “member who has an immediate interest in a question” to abstain from voting.
“We believe that Rep. Daudt may have already voted on a question before the body in which he has an interest. We see the possibility that he may be voting on many more bills that present a conflict during the rest of the session,” they said in a letter to Hortman. “Rather than allow that to happen and further ‘bring the House into dishonor or disrepute’ by the actions of one of its members, we are instead bringing this matter to you today for a full and complete airing of the issue.”
Stateside Associates’ client list includes several massive corporations, such as Delta, McDonald’s, General Motors, Starbucks, Visa, and Comcast.
“As a result, Rep. Daudt is inevitably casting votes on behalf of his influential clients,” the Republican lawmakers said in their statement, saying Daudt is “unabashedly taking what is likely a very substantial salary from Stateside Associates.”
“Furthermore, our offices are now getting calls from lobbyists with Washington D.C.- based Stateside Associates,” they added. “In all our years of serving in the Minnesota Legislature, we have never once received a call from a Stateside Associates lobbyist until Rep. Daudt started working for them. Rep. Daudt is trying his hardest to pump swamp water from Washington D.C. directly into Minnesota. This must stop.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].