State Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, defended his decision to take a job as executive director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools, a group with significant interests before the Legislature. 

His hiring was first reported by the Mesabi Daily News. 

On the steps outside the Senate chamber in front of a small scrum of reporters, Tomassoni said he had looked into the legal and ethical ramifications of taking the job and was comfortable in the dual role.

"It is legal and it's not a conflict-of-interest. I won't be different from any other legislator who has issues such as a farmer voting on farm issues or a lawyer voting on court issues, or a teacher voting on K-12 issues," he said.  

He won't start in his new position until the end of the legislative session and will take an unpaid leave of absence during future legislative sessions. He will earn $45,000 per year once the unpaid time is factored in. 

Tomassoni, who is also the chairman of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, said his dual role would only occasionally require him to recuse himself from voting. 

He said the job would be administrative, not lobbying, and that the board would hire a lobbyist if it so chose, reporting to the board and not to him.