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Minnesota House Speaker sued by debt collectors, tardy on land taxes

ST. PAUL - Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt faced three lawsuits in the past year over credit card charges. Minnesota Public Radio reported on the first day of the 2016 legislative session Tuesday that he also incurred penalties for not paying ...

Daudt
Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, is seen following a legislative briefing Thursday in St. Paul. (FORUM NEWS SERVICE)

ST. PAUL - Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt faced three lawsuits in the past year over credit card charges.

Minnesota Public Radio reported on the first day of the 2016 legislative session Tuesday that he also incurred penalties for not paying 2015 property taxes on the Isanti County land where he lives.

"Like many Minnesotans who struggled as a result of the recession, I lost my job and faced credit card debt," Daudt said in a statement. "This issue is now resolved and there is no outstanding debt. When I stand up for middle-class families who are feeling squeezed, it is not a talking point, it is real life."

Daudt frequently says that state government should live within its means.

One of the three credit card cases was resolved Monday when the two sides agreed on a settlement, but details were not released.

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The other two lawsuits were resolved last spring when a judge issued a default judgement against the speaker. However, the law firm representing Daudt asked the judge to vacate the rulings, which came a week later.

The opposition law firm also is a major lobbying firm at the Legislature. Another lobbyist represented Daudt.

Republican Daudt Tuesday morning told MPR's Cathy Wurzer that he did not receive special treatment when the law firm reversed course.

"No, in fact I don't think that they even knew that" Daudt was speaker, he said. "And, like I said, the debt had been paid in full, and that's why it was dismissed. And I assume that's normal practice."

MPR reports that he has lived in Zimmerman 20 years, but on official documents only reported that he owned a Cambridge home, where his mother lived.

"My home in Zimmerman is my principal place of abode," Daudt said in a sworn statement. "I have received all of my personal mail and personal bills at my Zimmerman address since June 1995."

Two parcels of land partly owned by Daudt outside Zimmerman were reported to have overdue taxes. MPR says that until January, Daudt listed with state campaign officials only the Cambridge home as property he owns. He amended the document in January to list two other properties outside Zimmerman.

County records show Daudt had not paid 2015 taxes on either piece of land, a combined $68 bill. When penalties were added, he paid $141 Monday evening, MPR reported.

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U.S. Bank sued to collect more than $9,000 in overdue credit card charges, documents show. A year ago, it won about $3,800 judgements against the speaker and soon requested that the case be vacated. A judge obliged a week later.

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