Daudt ends silence, answers questions about Montana gun incident

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, on Jan. 22, 2014. Tim Pugmire/MPR News

The top Republican in the Minnesota House broke his silence today about a run-in with the law in Montana last year by saying that he was never trying to hide anything.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, declined repeated interview requests for a week and a half after revealing that he was stopped by police during a truck-buying trip to Montana in September. A disagreement with the seller resulted in Daudt’s friend, Daniel Weinzetl of Cambridge, allegedly pulling a handgun owned by Daudt. Weinzetl was later arrested and charged with three felonies. Daudt said today that he isn’t second-guessing how he handled the matter.

“At the end of the day, I was doing everything that I could to resolve the situation and that’s what all accounts have been from the people involved,” Daudt said. “I’m ultimately responsible for my actions, and I was trying to everything I could to resolve the situations calmly and peacefully, and I guess that’s what I have to stand by.”

Daudt said police kept his handgun as evidence, and he’s unsure if he will have to return to Montana for court proceedings. He also downplayed his relationship with Weinzetl.

“I wouldn’t say we’re necessarily super-close friends,” he said. “He was somebody I took with me two years ago when I bought a vehicle in Montana, and he helped me drive it back. He lives and his family live very near my cabin, and he and his brother are sometimes my hired muscle to take my dock in and out of the water and my boat in and out of the water.”

Daudt met with GOP leaders in his legislative district last night to address some of their concerns. But he said they asked more questions about some of his votes last session than about the Montana incident. Daudt said he believes he is in good standing with the party, as well as his own caucus.

“They see how hard I’m working, and they appreciate that, and I think they are supportive of that,” he said.