A consumer protection lawyer has filed a campaign finance complaint agains House Speaker Kurt Daudt to force him to reveal if lobbyists provided him free or reduced legal services. The complaint is based upon information in a recent Minnesota Public Radio story that revealed Daudt was sued by debt collectors and was tardy on his taxes.
In all three cases another Capitol lobbyist has been involved on Daudt’s behalf, according to public court filings. That lobbyist, attorney R. Reid LeBeau II, is often turned to by the House Republican caucus for work on election law and ethics cases, though it isn’t clear who has paid his fees in Daudt’s personal finance cases.
After the MPR report aired, Daudt said he paid his own legal fees. But Attorney Adam Strauss has filed a complaint alleging Daudt has violated Minnesota’s Campaign Finance and Disclosure Act.
“Speaker Daudt has not provided evidence that he paid Mr LaBeau’s full market rate for his legal defense services,” writes Strauss in his complaint.
“If Speaker Daudt did not personally pay Mr. LaBeau’s full market rate for his legal services, both Speaker Daudt and Mr. LaBeau violated Minnesota’s ban on gifts from a lobbyist to a legislator.”
Complaints made to the Campaign Finance Board are not made public until it decides whether to carry out an investigation or take action. If there is not enough evidence or probable cause, then the complaint is dismissed — a process that can take up to two months.
Unlike most complainants to the CFB, Strauss is not politically active. He makes his living defending consumers. His Linked In profile says “I sue debt collectors, Robo-Dialers and Telemarketers.”
He says consumers don’t get lobbyist-provided free legal services. “This hits close to home,” says Strauss on why he filed the complaint.
The UpTake contacted Daudt’s office for comment about the complaint. Daudt’s office requested a copy of the complaint from The UpTake and was sent one on last Friday. In the six days since then, several calls and emails for comment have not been returned.
Daudt told the press on last week that he went into debt after he had been laid off from his job at a car dealership and eventually had more than $10,000 in credit card debt. “It gives me a real appreciation for the struggles Minnesotans have gone through.”
Daudt says he paid off all of the debt in full.
But for Strauss, the issue isn’t if Daudt paid his debts in full. The issue is whether Daudt got a discount on the legal services because a lobbyist was providing them.
Copy of complaint
(Please note the watermark “Document Obtained By The UpTake” has been added to the document and was not on the original filing)