Democratic state Sen. John Hoffman prominently touted his political status on his personal consulting firm's website as recently as a week ago, prompting government ethics experts to question whether he was promoting his official position for personal gain.

"Book Senator Hoffman to speak," a tab at the top of his Hoffman Strategic Advisors website read. The website's homepage featured a posed photo of Hoffman inside the Minnesota State Capitol.

"Imagine the dynamic synergy of industry expertise and political acumen. Senator John Hoffman, alongside Hoffman Strategic Advisors, brings a unique blend of public service insights and strategic business brilliance. When you book our speaker duo, you're not just hosting an event; you're orchestrating an unforgettable experience," read a blurb on Hoffman's consulting website.

But after the Star Tribune questioned him about it late last week, Hoffman scrubbed most mentions of his Senate status and the Capitol photo from the website. He said in an interview that he always considers himself a senator and he hadn't thought about the optics of promoting his position on his personal website. Hoffman acknowledged the concerns being raised and said he's made no money from the business.

Hamline University political science Prof. David Schultz reviewed Hoffman's website before it changed and said he thought it looked like the senator was "using his official position for the purposes of potential personal financial gain."

Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, a nonprofit that advocates for government transparency, also had concerns. She said, "Sen. Hoffman's use of this title for marketing his consulting business as 'senator,' along with the use of pictures taken while at the Capitol campus, can arguably be seen as him leveraging his public role for private gain."

Hoffman told the Star Tribune his consulting firm hasn't had any paying clients to date, despite listing Hoffman Strategic Advisors as a source of income on his economic disclosure with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board.

The senator said he's always disclosed his associated businesses even if he didn't make money from them.

Hoffman did not appear to have violated any laws or rules by promoting his Senate status on his private business website. But Schultz and Belladonna-Carrera both said the legislative branch could benefit from having clearer rules for lawmakers. The executive branch has an ethics statute that could have prohibited this type of scenario.

The executive branch's code of ethics considers the following a conflict of interest: "The use for private gain or advantage of state time, facilities, equipment or supplies or badge, uniform, prestige or influence of state office or employment."

"This branch of government — I would argue the most public facing and accountable to the people particularly because of what it does and who it is supposed to be working for — is once again the one with the least accountability and transparency," Belladonna-Carrera said of the Legislature.

Staff writer Rochelle Olson contributed to this report.