Rep. Kurt Daudt, the leader of the Old House Republican Caucus has been hired by a major DC lobbying firm, Stateside Associates as a “Director of Public Affairs.” Stateside Associates specializes in lobbying state and local governments for large multinational corporations. Existing or past Stateside Associates clients include Starbucks, Visa, Comcast, and GlaxoSmithKline.
The press-release announcing Daudt’s hiring states that the “role is part-time and does not involve lobbying,” which allows Daudt to “continue to serve in the Minnesota Legislature.” The press-release also says that Daudt is being hired by Stateside Associates because he can provide the firm with “access to elected and appointed leaders in all 50 states” and has a “deep knowledge of the legislative process.”
It appears Daudt is operating in a legal “grey area”. Minnesota does have a law against legislators acting as lobbyists, and even prohibits legislators from registering as lobbyists until one year after they leave office. But Daudt won’t be directly lobbying. Instead, he will work with the lobbyists and play more of a consultancy role, creating an enormous conflict of interest in the eyes of many.
Conservative grassroots organization Action 4 Liberty was quick to jump on the news story last Friday posting on its Facebook page: “It appears that the failed leader of the Old House Republican Caucus, Kurt Daudt, is cashing out on his political influence. #Swamp”. Action 4 Liberty was also critical of Daudt back in 2016 when Daudt called for Trump to leave the presidential race a month before the election.
Criticism of Daudt’s move has also come from the New House Republican Caucus. NHRC leader Rep Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) stated “it’s unethical for a legislator to sell access to other legislators. That’s why we have a House rule against legislators being lobbyists. He is betraying the public’s trust by directing lobbying activity for a DC lobbying firm that sells access to multi-national corporations while also holding an election certificate. Rep. Daudt needs to decide which master he is going to serve – the public, or the paymaster. You can’t serve both and the people won’t stand for someone who purports to do so. He needs to resign his House seat or give up the conflicting position.”
Rep Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) commented “We started the New House Republican Caucus so we could stay out of the swamp. For good reason, it is against the law to lobby while serving as a legislator. Some things should never be acceptable. It’s not wise to stock alligators in Minnesota lakes.”
Minnesota Trump supporters will likely be the most suspect of Daudt’s move since many define the “swamp” as the political connection between elected officials and special interests/lobbyists. Trump ran a massively successful campaign in 2016 about draining the swamp, which landed him within 1.5 points of winning Minnesota.
Earlier in the year, DFL State Rep. Jamie Long got into trouble over a gig at the University of Minnesota, via a grant made by an outside donor that seemed earmarked for Long’s employment when the legislature wasn’t in session.