Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, announced tonight that he’s resigning from the Minnesota Legislature. The announcement comes after Gottwalt took a lobbying job with the Center for Diagnostic Imaging of St. Louis Park. Gottwalt had planned to lobby in states other than Minnesota to ensure there was no conflict of interest but he said that the new job would prevent him from fully serving his constituents.
“It’s a huge set of changes, and it makes this position one to which I must fully commit as much time and focus as possible,” Gottwalt wrote in an e-mail to his colleagues. “It quite simply is more than a full time job, and one that will not allow me the time I need to represent the people of District 14A as their State Representative.”
Gottwalt says he’ll resign by the end of the month.
Gottwalt was also under fire after MPR News reported that he took a job from an insurance broker who lobbied him to create a voucher system for roughly 5,000 MinnesotaCare recipients. Gottwalt, who chairs the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee, was the chief author of the legislation. He entered a financial arrangement with the owner of a health insurance brokerage firm that lobbied the Legislature to create the Healthy Minnesota Contribution Program which shifted low income Minnesotans enrolled in a state subsidized health insurance program into a voucher system.
Governor Dayton will have to call a special election to replace Gottwalt. Dayton will order that election after he receives Gottwalt’s resignation letter.
Gottwalt is the second lawmaker to announce his resignation before the legislative session begins on Tuesday. Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, announced he was leaving the legislature to take a position in Chicago. Morrow says he’ll file his resignation letter after he officially finishes his current term.
Democrats currently control both chambers of the Legislature. Neither special election will change control of the Legislature.
The 2013 session begins on Tuesday at noon.
Here’s Gottwalt’s full e-mail:
At the beginning of December, I announced the great news that I had joined Center for Diagnostic Imaging as Director of State Legislative Policy, in a national role assisting this healthcare company in continuing its leadership in providing high quality, cost-effective diagnostic imaging services. My role at the CDI Quality Institute is to understand and translate the complex state healthcare regulatory environment in more than 25 states in which the company sees patients, and I am proud to be working with a health care company actively seeking solutions at a critical time for healthcare across the country.
As I’ve settled in at CDI, I see the states are once again the laboratory of democracy, and each is finding its own approach to implementing the new federal healthcare law. It’s a huge set of changes, and it makes this position one to which I must fully commit as much time and focus as possible. It quite simply is more than a full time job, and one that will not allow me the time I need to represent the people of District 14A as their State Representative.
That is why I have made the difficult decision to resign my seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives before the end of the month. I thank you, my colleagues, for our years of service together, and my constituents for their confidence in electing me to represent them. I will always appreciate the deep honor and privilege of serving the residents of St. Cloud, Waite Park, St. Augusta and Rockville.
Sincerely in service,
State Rep. Steve Gottwalt