Republican Representative Nick Zerwas resigned from the legislature on December 6th, 2019. As of January 8th, 2020 he is now registered as a lobbyist representing the interests of Sanford Health and MN Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.
Zerwas has cited his health and the need to spend more time with family as the main driver for his resignation. The resignation has triggered a special election in a district that will likely be held by a Republican. The Republican Primary is on Tuesday, January 14th.
Paul Novotny is the favorite to win and has received the endorsement from Nick Zerwas. Novotny has also received endorsements of the Republican Party of Minnesota, State Senator Mary Kiffmeyer and the majority of the Republican House Caucus members.
However, outsider Kathy Ziebarth is hoping to pull off an upset and is using the lobbying job of Nick Zerwas as a campaign issue.
Ziebarth has mailed out a letter attacking Zerwas for taking a job with a lobbying firm so soon after resigning.
In a press release, Zierbarth stated that she sees Zewas as part of St. Paul corruption.
“This self-serving corruption is too common and the people deserve someone who is working for them, not themselves.” wrote Ziebarth.
Recently minority leader Kurt Daudt was also criticized for taking a lobbying position. Unlike Zerwas, Kurt Daudt does not intend to resign from the legislature or his leadership position.
Minnesota House rules do ban legislators from lobbying while serving and a year after they leave office. However, politicians often try to use a loophole that allows them to “advise” lobbyists.
It is unclear if the fact that Zerwas registered as a lobbyist will constitute a violation of the lobbying ban