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Kurt Zellers _ Compete Mn

Kurt Zellers _ Compete Mn

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Published by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger on Aug 08, 2014
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 1993 Graduated from University of North Dakota
1993 Moved to Minnesota to become management trainee at Menard’s
 1994-2000 Served as staffer and spokesperson for Rod Grams 2001 Hired as a public relations account supervisor by Miller Meester, Minneapolis; lost job following 9/11 attacks 2002 Served as spokesperson for Norm Coleman 2003 Served as spokesperson for House Republicans 2003 Won special election to represent state House, District 32B 2004 Reelected 2006 Reelected; elected assistant minority leader 2006 Named senior account executive by Padilla Speer Beardsley Inc., Minneapolis 2008 Reelected 2009 Elected House minority leader 2010 Reelected; elected speaker of the House designate 2011 Sworn in as speaker 2012 Republicans lose House 2013 Announced candidacy for governor
Zellers “has spent nearly his entire adult life in GOP politics.” “
He’s a personable 33
-year-old who has spent nearly his entire adult life in GOP politics. He worked for former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams for 6 1/2 years, was a
spokesman for Norm Coleman’s winning Senate campaign last year, and today is director of public affairs for the
Minnesota House Republican majority. Zellers seems more a student of politics than of policy
.” (Editorial, “District
Ganley a clear choice for House,”
Star Tribune
, February 20, 2003)
Zellers “could easily get labeled by his opponents as a career politician.”
“Among the possible candidates: House Speaker Kurt Zellers had an early political career working on statewide campaigns …
 Zellers, however, could easily get labeled by his opponents as a career politician
.” (
 Politics in Minnesota: The Weekly Report 
, July 8, 2011)
Zellers is career politician.
“After graduating from UND in 1993, Zellers moved to the Twin Cities to become a management trainee at Menard’s. But friends soon talked him into applying for a job on then
Rep. Rod Grams’ 1994 U.S. Senate campaign. …
After Grams was defeated in 2000, Zellers worked in public relations. Then Norm Coleman recruited him to be press secretary for his successful run for the U.S. Senate in 2002. When Coleman won, he offered Zellers his second Washington job. But Zellers and
his new wife, Kim, decided they’d rather raise a family in Minnesota. … He accepted a communications job with the state House Republican caucus… In early 2003, state Rep. Rich Stanek of Maple Grove resigned from the House to become Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s publ
safety commissioner. Republican leaders recruited Zellers to run for his open seat.” (Bill Salisbury, “New House speaker Kurt Zellers is a farm kid at heart,”
 Pioneer Press
, November 28, 2010)
Zellers: “There’s very little that I do that isn’t campaign
Reporter: “Are you going to spend any of your personal money on the campaign?” Zellers: “No. She’s a public school teacher. I do this. I used to do public
relations work in the off-
season but I’ve scaled that back. Now
there’s very little that I do that isn’t campaign
.” (Charley Shaw, “Minnesota GOP Rep Kurt Zellers’ campaign: the guy next door as governor,”
The Legal  Ledger 
, August 28, 2013)
Zellers in 2010: No higher career goals beyond being speaker.
“Zellers said he has no higher career goals. ‘Each time I try to plan one out, God corrects and decides where I’m going to. So wherever I’m led, I will serve.’” (Bill
Salisbury, New House speaker Kurt Zellers is a farm kid at heart,
 Pioneer Press
, November 28, 2010)
Zellers refuses to release charitable giving figures from his tax returns.
“Unlike Dayton, Thompson and
Johnson, Zellers has not released any information about his charitable giving, despite a request from the Star Tribune
.” (Rachel Stassen Berger, “Hot Dish Politics: Zellers releases (some of) his tax information,”
,  November 25, 2013)
Zellers accepted pay during government shutdown.
“After Gov. Mark Dayton announced that he would not
accept pay during the state government shutdown, 14 senators and 48 representatives followed suit. That leaves 52 of the 66 members of the Senate (79 percent) and 87 of the 135 members of the House (64 percent) who collected
July paychecks. … Taking pay in the House … Kurt Zellers, R 
Maple Grove.” (Warren Wolfe, “139 legislators are collecting paychecks during shutdown,”
Star Tribune
, July 10, 2011)
“According to payroll offices in the state House and Senate, 62 Minnesota state lawmakers deferred their
July 1 paycheck as the state government shutdown got under way. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is also
declining his paycheck during the shutdown. Here’s a breakdown of which lawmakers did what. … House members who accepted their July pay… Kurt Zellers, R 
Maple Grove.” (“List of Minnesota lawmakers who declined July pay,” Associated Press, July 11, 2011)
Zellers among top per diem recipients in 2011.
“Capitol Report obtained full 2011 per diem records for both
chambers in the Legislature, which accompany this article. He
re are a few highlights…Top leaders in each chamber
tended to be among the highest recipients. House Speaker Kurt Zellers was fourth in his chamber at nearly
$12,400.” (Jake Grovum, “2011 per diems: New choir, same song: Despite state fiscal crisis, Minnes
ota legislators
took advantage of expense allowances,”
The Legal Ledger 
, January 11, 2012)
Zellers among top per diem recipients in 2012.
“In the House, it’s not surprising to see that most of the top 10
legislators who accepted per diem last year were also Republican committee chairs who did extensive travel across the state. Five-term Rep. Pat Garofalo (GOP-Farmington), the outgoinging chairman of the House Education Finance Committee, tops the list, having used more than $6,000 in per diem during session and $5,280 more during
the interim. …Top Ten House Per Diem Users… Pat Garofalo (GOP): $11,418[;] Jim Abeler (GOP): $9,900[;] Greg
Davids (GOP): $9,760[;] Michael Beard (GOP): $8,382[;] Mary Liz Holberg (GOP): $8,382[;] Larry Howes (GOP):
$8,303[;] Kurt Zellers (GOP): $8,184.” (
 Politics in Minnesota: The Weekly Report 
, January 4, 2013)
Free Pres
: Zellers demonstrates need to tighten disclosure laws.
Current laws governing economic interest disclosure remain lax and fail to require even the most basic information in particular on legislators who list their business as consultants and lawyers
. They’re not required to disclose their client list or even what kind of
consulting they do or what areas of law they work in.So, a legislator could vote on legislation helpful to a client
without the public ever knowing the difference. …Both sides are taking advantage the current lax disclosure system.
The newly elected House Speaker, DFLer Paul Thissen, is an attorney with Lindquist and Vennum, but declines to  provide information on clients. Former Republican Speaker Kurt Zellers lists his occupation as a public-relations
consultant, but also doesn’t list clients. These loopholes Marty describes as “massive”
 also create an unfair playing field among legislators who work for known employers. They must disclose who they work for and therefore are
subject to more scrutiny. … At a time when credibility and trust of legislators remains fairly low, we think the
Legislature could do itself a favor and tighten up disclosure requirements and enforce reasonable rules that will help
the public understand potential conflicts of interest legislators might face.” (Editorial, “Our View: Tighten legislator disclosure law,”
 Free Press
, January 12, 2013)
Zellers’ time as speaker included three
week government shutdown and was “capped by two divisive
constitutional amendments and an election that cost Republicans control of
the Legislature.”
“But that high
 profile cuts both ways. His budget battle with Dayton sparked a three-week government shutdown in Zellers first year in leadership. His final year as speaker was capped by two divisive constitutional amendments and an election that cost Republicans control of the Legislature. He angered both supporters and opponents of the new Vikings
stadium by voting against funding the construction, but allowing the stadium bill to pass anyway.”(Jennifer Brooks, “GOP lineup for governor grows,”
Star Tribune
, June 23, 2013)
Minnesota Public Radio November 7, 2012 headline:
Following 2012 election debacle, Democrats gained full control of state government for first time since 1991.
“Pending a recount in a close Northfield race, Democrats captured 39 of the Senate’s 67 seats. In the House,
the DFL won 73 of 134 seats. Republican Rep. Mary Franson edged Democrat Bob Cuniff by a single vote in a House race headed for a recount.
Democrats last controlled the Senate, House and governor’s office from 1987 to 1991, during the end of Democratic Gov. Rudy Perpich’s tenure.” (Martiga Lohn, “Minn. Dems step gingerly
Dayton tax plan,” Associated Press, November 8, 2012)
Business community critical of GOP for pushing social issues during 2012 campaign.
““But Charlie Weaver, a former Republican lawmaker who now represents the state’s largest businesses as head of the Min
nesota Business Partnership, faulted Republicans for pushing constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and require voters to show photo ID onto the ballot. Both amendments failed, and Weaver said GOP legislative leaders badly miscalculated the effect t
hose would have on election results. ‘
It was an enormous mistake for the Republicans to
 put those ballot initiatives on the ballot,’ he said, adding the proposals alienated women, young people and
.’” (Martiga Lohn, “Minn. Dems step gingerly around Dayton tax plan,” Associated Press, November 8,
“Twin Cities business leaders say it was a mistake for Republicans to push constitutional amendments for
social issues instead of focusing the economy. Both of the amendments
 one related to gay marriage and the other to voter ID
 failed Tuesday night. Those issues appeared to drive turnout among Democrats,
which in turn helped the DFL recapture both houses of the state Legislature. ‘
Our view was that it was a mistake from day one to put those issues on the ballot because they are divisive issues, particularly the marriage amendment
,’ said Charlie Weaver, executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership. ‘
It split the business community and energized the electorate
.” (John Vomhof Jr., “MN business leaders: GOP’s amendment push was a mistake,
 Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal 
, November 7, 2012)

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