Daudt says he won’t support $10,000 door for Capitol suite

Published 8:42 am Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ST. PAUL — Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt insisted Monday that he won’t support spending $10,000 on a Capitol office door that his aides had approached construction planners about installing as part of the building’s ambitious restoration.

The top legislative Republican moved to distance himself from pricey fixtures that would be paid for by a sudden infusion of $2 million for furniture, decorative touches and other items in the remodeled Capitol. The Associated Press reported on the GOP’s back-channel push for extra money, which added 45 percent more to the original $4.5 million furnishings budget.

The costly door would have separated two offices controlled by the House majority, referred to in blueprints and by a Daudt aide in correspondence as “the Speaker and Majority Leader offices.” Daudt said no legislative member will occupy the space, but it will be used for meetings among lawmakers and with constituents.

Email newsletter signup

Daudt said the door would have enhanced security in the space. He said he was under the impression the custom-made door would be put in at no additional cost and wasn’t aware of the price until The AP’s report, which cited internal documents from the Department of Administration.

“I think the space works better with a door in the doorway, but ultimately not having it is perfectly fine with us,” he told a meeting of the Capitol Preservation Commission, which must sign off on the plan for spending the extra $2 million. That vote could come this fall.

Other add-on features under discussion include hardwood flooring instead of carpeting for the same offices, higher-end upholstery on chairs and more historically compatible furniture throughout the Capitol.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, who like Daudt sits on the preservation commission, vented about the way the furnishing money was pushed through as a late-added appropriation without full vetting by the Legislature. Other aspects of the renovation budget have been subject to numerous hearings.