Sep 7, 2022 - News

Minnesota legislator named CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States

ruth richardson
Rep. Ruth Richardson. Photo: Minnesota Legislature

A sitting DFL state legislator has been named the next CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States.

Driving the news: Rep. Ruth Richardson will succeed outgoing CEO Sarah Stoesz as head of the organization, which includes abortion and health care clinics in Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa, as well as health care clinics in North Dakota and South Dakota.

  • A release from the organization praised the St. Paul Democrat as a "health equity champion, and a trailblazer," citing her work for a nonprofit mental health and substance abuse center.
  • Stoesz will remain in charge of the organization's campaign arm through the November 2022 elections.

Yes, but: Richardson is running for re-election in a safe district this fall, meaning she could be at the helm of a politically powerful organization that lobbies the Legislature on contentious issues at the same time she's serving in office.

  • The chair of the Minnesota Republican Party called the situation a "clear conflict of interest and a disservice to her constituents."

What they're saying: PPNCS said in a release that Richardson will oversee healthcare operations, not "political work or lobbying while she holds her legislative seat." A spokesperson confirmed to Axios that Richardson expects to continue serving in the House if re-elected.

  • "Legislators are teachers, doctors, business owners, parents, caregivers, and more," the spokesperson told Axios via email. "The Legislature has clear processes to avoid conflicts of interest, which all members are expected to follow."

The intrigue: The spokesperson did not directly respond to Axios' inquiry about whether Richardson will recuse herself from voting on legislation that would impact the organization.

Context: Legislators on both sides of the aisle have faced questions in recent years about potential conflicts-of-interest between their outside work and roles in office, leading good government experts to call for tougher disclosure rules at the Capitol.

  • Current policies require that members inform legislative leaders ahead of a vote or action that could directly impact their personal finances.
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