Republican freshman lawmaker Rep. Erik Mortensen, of Shakopee, is no longer a part of the New House Republican Caucus, according to a May 18 letter from the office of Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman.
In November, Mortensen narrowly defeated incumbent DFLer Brad Tabke for the District 55A seat, which represents Shakopee and Jackson and Louisville townships.
Since then he's proved to be a controversial figure in the public eye, hosting a "freedom party" later that month in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions imposed to slow the surge in cases.
Mortensen's supporters have valued his support of keeping small businesses open amid pandemic restrictions and the high importance he's placed on transparency in government.
Mortensen operates on a platform of "Fighting for your individual rights whether it's the popular thing to do or not," according to his campaign Facebook page.
The New House Republican Caucus was formed in December 2018 by Reps. Steve Drazkowski, Jeremy Munson, Cal Bahr and Tim Miller, all Republican lawmakers who were dissatisfied with caucus leadership.
Mortensen became the fifth member when he joined them last year.
Mortensen took to Facebook May 18 to confirm that he would no longer be part of the caucus.
"At the very core of our disagreement was my mission to expose the shenanigans in St. Paul," Mortensen wrote. "I have consistently delivered on my promise to pull back the curtains in the capitol and empower voters with information on how their legislators conduct themselves. "
Mortensen said the matter was "handled very unprofessionally" by GOP leaders, who he claims leaked the announcement days prior to the Republican caucus and the DFL.
"I've been shining a spotlight on the traitorous behavior of Republicans and Democrats in St. Paul and calling out the individual lawmakers by name. The caucus gave me the ultimatum to either stop exposing how politicians betray their constituents or be kicked out of the caucus," Mortensen told the Valley News. "I chose the harder path and to continue to shine daylight on politicians' behavior so that the people could hold them accountable."
On Monday, Tabke tweeted a response to the situation, stating "This is extremely unfortunate and concerning news for the residents and businesses of Shakopee."
Because Mortensen will no longer have access to GOP support, Tabke said, he won't be able to hire staff to support his constituents or be able to collaborate with other lawmakers.
However, that's all nonsense, Mortensen said.
"My ability to serve my district is still fully intact," Mortensen said on Facebook. "In fact I'm more empowered than ever to focus on district needs because no caucus leaders are telling me what to do or how to do it."
Mortensen also thanked his supporters, stating he's received an overwhelming amount of texts, emails and calls that affirm he's doing the right thing.
Going forward, Mortensen said, he knows that "the entrenched establishment of both parties will be gunning for (him)."
"But as I've always promised, I will fight for the people, not for politicians," Mortensen said. "I side with the people because they truly have all of the political power and I want to help them take their country back."
Mortensen said although a lot of politicians claim they're going to challenge the status quo when elected, they eventually cave to party bosses.
"I'm actually delivering on that promise," Mortensen said. "And although shaking things up isn't popular within the Capitol buildings, people across the entire state are showing sincere appreciation for someone finally delivering."