The Minnesota Legislature this week passed a lobbying reform law that will prohibit current legislators from working for lobbying firms.
The proposal was passed by the House as part of an omnibus tax bill and was brought forward by members of the New House Republican Caucus, spurred on by a controversy involving House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, in 2019.
While retaining the minority leader position, Daudt accepted a public affairs role at a lobbying firm based in Virginia called Stateside Associates, a firm with several massive clients including Delta, BP, and FedEx.
Daudt was immediately called upon by his fellow Republican representatives to give up one of the positions, as many considered working both jobs to be a breach of ethics and a conflict of interest.
Daudt responded by claiming that his “number one priority” was still his constituents and his work in the Legislature. His position at Stateside technically does not involve direct lobbying work, and he said he would not work on Minnesota-related issues for the firm.
The New House Republican Caucus, however, said Daudt has voted on issues that impact Stateside’s clients, like the pharmaceutical, used car, and fast food industries.
Now, an amendment has passed the DFL-controlled House that will prohibit legislators from accepting positions at organizations whose main activity is legislative lobbying.
“Transparency in government is one of the primary reasons I ran for office,” Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, said in a statement. “We cannot have legislators who claim to represent the interests of their constituents, but also exchange legislative favors with wealthy clients.”
Rep. Cal Bahr, R-East Bethel, said, “If a sitting legislator is employed by a lobbying firm, then we do not know if they are casting certain votes on behalf of their constituents or on behalf of their clients. The conflict of interest is clear, and the Minnesota House of Representatives is right to end this practice.”
The amendment passed the House in a vote of 119-1 and was then approved by the Senate. Daudt did not cast a vote. The measure won’t take effect until January 2023.