DFL state rep resigns amid battle with labor union

During the past legislative session, Richardson served in two roles: as a voting member of the legislature and as chief executive of a nonprofit organization employing registered lobbyists at the capitol.

Rep. Ruth Richardson, who announced her resignation Friday night, speaks at a press conference in January. (Office of Gov. Tim Walz/Flickr)

(Center of the American Experiment) — Three-term state Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, abruptly resigned via Twitter (X) Friday night, as the long Labor Day weekend began.

Little additional explanation was given for her sudden departure. As a House member, she served on the Economic Development Committee.

Her district covers part of suburban Dakota County. Her official House bio lists her occupation as “attorney,” but, in fact, her day job is serving as CEO of the regional abortion provider Planned Parenthood North Central States, based in St. Paul. She began that position less than a year ago.

Her immediate predecessor in the Planned Parenthood position earned total compensation exceeding $500,000 per year, according to recent tax filings.

During the past legislative session, Rep. Richardson served in both roles: as a voting member of the legislature and as chief executive of a nonprofit organization employing registered lobbyists at the capitol.

This past year, Minnesota passed HF 2930/SF 2995, enacting what is believed to be the nation’s most permissive abortion laws. Even before the new law was passed, the number of abortions performed in the state was increasing at an annual rate of 20 percent. Richardson voted in favor of the bill.

As previously documented, the Planned Parenthood network represents one of the DFL Party’s largest fundraising organizations, contributing millions of dollars to the cause each election cycle. According to IRS records, the network under Planned Parenthood North Central States includes 12 separate corporate entities, with a for-profit arm, and an array of 501c3, 501c4 (dark money), and 527 campaign finance vehicles.

According to media reports, her local Planned Parenthood unit was embroiled in a dispute over labor organizing with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

“But in recent months, Richardson ran into trouble with labor, a key DFL ally. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) rescinded its endorsement of her, saying she had overseen a union busting campaign at Planned Parenthood, the Minnesota Reformer reported in July.
Some 435 Planned Parenthood workers unionized in 2022 at the nonprofit health care organization. Two of the union leaders were fired and the rest were disciplined, the Reformer reported. Workers protested at the Capitol outside the House chamber in April, demanding Richardson meet them.”

SEIU entities also donate millions to the DFL cause.

Planned Parenthood isn’t the only Minnesota leftist political nonprofit battling labor. Sahan Journal also reports that the environmental nonprofit MN350 is embroiled in a labor organizing dispute with a prospective union:

“The climate advocacy group MN350 has fired a prominent organizer and reprimanded another organizer, exposing tensions between its leaders and a staff that is in the process of unionizing.
MN350 this month fired Nancy Beaulieu and disciplined Andy Pearson, they told Sahan Journal, for ‘timecard deception.’ But MN350 staff members say they’re being disciplined for their work on the organizing committee for MN350 Workers United.”

In 2018, Richardson defeated an incumbent Republican representative, Regina Barr, to claim the seat (52A) for Democrats. Prior to Barr, the seat had been held by DFL Rep. Joe Atkins for seven terms.

Presumably, a special election will be held this fall to fill the remainder of the two-year term.


Bill Glahn

Bill Glahn is an Adjunct Policy Fellow with Center of the American Experiment.