On August 10, 2010, Chaudhary was defeated by former Minnesota House Member Barbara Goodwin in the Minnesota primary election. He left office on January 4, 2011, when his successor, Goodwin, was sworn in. With Chaudhary's departure, and the 2010 retirements of Senator Mee Moua and Representative Cy Thao, there were no individuals of Asian descent left serving in the Minnesota Legislature.
Chaudhary was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1969 to Hindu Jat parents from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, India. Chaudhary's parents immigrated from India in 1966. His father, Dr. S.P.S. Chaudhary, is a retired inspector with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to an early interview from Chaudhary's legislative career, the story of how he got that job became a frequently told story in the family.
"My dad was a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota and, being a new immigrant, was having a hard time finding a job," Chaudhary said. "He decided to utilize the American system and write to his U.S. senator. Hubert Humphrey called him back and said that there was no reason why my dad, if he was a qualified veterinarian, shouldn't work for the USDA." Chaudhary's mother, Raj Mohini Chaudhary, first worked as a research assistant at the University of Minnesota, then owned an import firm, and finally, went on to establish a family wellness foundation for the South Asian community SEWA-AIFW. "I definitely get my business sense and political savvy from her," Chaudhary has stated publicly on several occasions. "Both of my parents taught us to never forget how we began."
His parents moved to the suburbs of Minneapolis in 1976 and Chaudhary spent the remainder of his youth in Fridley, Minnesota. He attended Columbia Heights High School, where Chaudhary claimed a government teacher, Jack Gause, first got him involved in state politics. "I've been pretty much a political animal since high school. The first campaign I ever worked on was for Rep. Alice Johnson in 1986 (his junior year of high school). It was a great honor to co-sponsor [legislation] HFI with her 10 years later."
After graduation from Columbia Heights High School in 1987, Chaudhary went on to receive his B.A. from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota in Political Science. As an undergraduate, he was in the student senate and lobbied for the state student coalition. While an undergraduate student he also attended Manchester College, Oxford University in England where he studied British and American foreign policy. Upon his return to the United States in 1991, Chaudhary graduated from St. Olaf and then served as a staff member in the Congressional Offices of Senator Edward Kennedy working in the area of foreign policy. In 1992, Chaudhary took a year off from academics to work on the Tom Harkin presidential campaign and Gerry Sikorski's last 6th Congressional District race. Both candidates lost, but " that experience provided some important political lessons," Chaudhary said.
After his time in Washington, DC Chaudhary continued his studies in law at the University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, Minnesota. While a law student, Chaudhary was a law clerk for the Honorable Judge John Stanoch, Fourth Judicial District, Minnesota, a law clerk at the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis MN, and acted as Special Assistant to Attorney General Hubert H. Humphrey III in Saint Paul, MN. He also received the Governor’s Certificate of Commendation for his work with the Legal Aid Society in Minneapolis and was an author for the Journal of Global Trade, University of Minnesota Law School. Chaudhary graduated from law school in 1995 receiving his Juris Doctorate.
In 2000 Satveer Chaudhary opened a private law office. Chaudhary was named 2004 Alumni of the Year for the University of Minnesota Law School.
Just two weeks out of law school, Chaudhary ran for the Minnesota House of Representatives in the July 1995 special election primary for the District 52A legislative seat, in a Minneapolis suburban area that includes parts of Fridley and New Brighton and all of Columbia Heights and Hilltop, Minnesota. Chaudhary lost that race, but came back to defeat the winner, Republican incumbent Skip Carlson, in 1996 and netted 53% of the vote. When asked to comment on the election to the Minnesota Legislature, Chaudhary displayed both a sense of history and a sense of humor. "When was the last time a tall, skinny, left-handed, balding, Gemini was elected in Minnesota?" he asked. The answer: "Hubert Humphrey." At the time he was elected state representative, Chaudhary became the first Asian-American member of the Minnesota Legislature, and only the fourth Asian-Indian elected to a state legislature in U.S. history. His election was covered by the U.S. and Indian press and a prominent Indian news magazine
While in the House, Chaudhary made expansion of healthcare access, education and economic development priorities. In several interviews Chaudhary also alluded to the needs of working families in his district: "On top of the district's agenda are education, crime, taxes, welfare reform, and affordable health care. We're an inner ring suburban area and are facing a lot of pressures. Without education you have higher crime and without economic development you have a weak tax base," he was quoted as saying. The other constituency Chaudhary also worked closely with in his first legislative months was Minnesota's Asian community. He also worked on other public safety issues, particularly DWI penalties and youth driving regulations. Records for Chaudhary's freshman House term list 103 House Documents Found In Legislative Session 80 (1997–1998) listing him as Author or Chief Author. During this period of Chaudhary's legislative career he was a member of the Minnesota Conservation Federation, the Columbia Heights Lions Club, the Fridley Kiwanis, and became a member of the Fridley Human Resources Commission.
As a freshman legislator in the Minnesota House of Representatives, Chaudhary served on the following committees:Education Committee
Education Subcommittee: Facilities
Education Subcommittee: Higher Education Finance Division
Education Subcommittee: Higher Education Finance Division-Reform, Efficiency and Accountability
Judiciary Subcommittee: Civil and Family Law Division
Judiciary Subcommittee: DWI (Chair)
Local Government and Metropolitan Affairs Committee
Chaudhary was re-elected to the House in 1998. During his second term in office, he continued to work on environmental legislation and financial reform of the Minnesota State Lottery system. He also became a member of the Police Officers Alliance of Minnesota. There were 97 House Documents Found In Legislative Session 81 (1999–2000) listing bills with Satveer Chaudhary as Authors or Chief Author. During his second term as a legislator in the Minnesota House of Representatives, Chaudhary served on the following committees:Education Policy Committee
Family and Early Childhood Education Finance Committee
Jobs and Economic Development Policy Committee
In 2000 incumbent Senator Steve Novak for SD 52 stepped aside to run for a Congressional seat in the 4th Congressional District. Chaudhary received the nomination from the local DFL party and ran against Republican Dan Coughlin in the November general election. Chaudhary won the election with 57 percent of the votes.
When he joined the Senate at age 31, Satveer Chaudhary was the youngest senator ever elected in Minnesota, and became the first Asian-Indian state senator (not to be confused with U.S. Senator) in American history. In 2001, Chaudhary was chosen to be a delegate by the American Council of Young Political Leaders representing the United States State Legislatures and traveling to Argentina and Uruguay. Later that year, he had the honor of escorting the Dalai Lama during the Dalai's State Visit to Minnesota.
During his first two years as a state senator, Chaudhary served on seven Senate Committees including:Senate Crime Prevention Committee
Senate Education Committee
Senate Education Subcommittee: Early Childhood-Grade 12 Education Budget Division
Senate Education Subcommittee: Technology (Chair)
Senate Finance Committee
Senate Finance Subcommittee: Transportation and Public Safety Budget Division
Senate Transportation Committee
Minnesota legislative records show 156 Senate Documents Found In Legislative Session 82 (2001–2002)for bills listing Satveer Chaudhary as Author or Chief Author. Many of these bills pertained to North Metro Minneapolis and St. Paul transportation initiatives and education matters.
Due to the 2000 Census and redistricting, Chaudhary's first Minnesota senate term was two years. In 2002 he ran again for a four-year term in the senate seat in newly redistricted SD52 against Republican Steve Minar. Chaudhary won in the November 2002 election, beating opponent Minar with 55.5 percent of the vote. During the next four years in the legislature, Chaudhary served on new Senate Committees focusing more heavily on the environment, thus beginning his campaigns for outdoor issues. He also assumed a leadership position within the Senate as Senate Majority Whip. The Committees were:Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee
Senate Environment and Natural Resources Subcommittee: Game and Fish Committee (Vice-Chair)
Senate Finance Committee
Senate Finance Subcommittee: State Government Budget Division
Senate Finance Subcommittee: Transportation Budget Division
Senate Judiciary Committee
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee: Data Practices
Senate Transportation Committee
Senate Capital Investment Committee
Senate Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee
As Vice-Chair of the Fish and Game Subcommittee, Chaudhary was the Chief Author of the 2005 Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources reform bill, and co-authored legislation on clean air and water. In 2006, because of his work with the environmental legislations, citizen's groups and outdoors organizations, Chaudhary was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson to serve on the newly created Legislative and Citizen’s Commission on Minnesota Resources. During this first full senate term Chaudhary Authored or Chief-Authored 222 bills.
In 2006 Chaudhary ran again for the SD50 senate seat against Republican Rae Hart Anderson. He was re-elected with 63% of the vote.
In 2010 after political controversies, Chaudhary lost DFL endorsement for the SD50 senate seat. He lost in the primary to DFL-endorsed former representative Barb Goodwin with 30.9 percent of the vote.
During his tenure at the Minnesota legislature Chaudhary received numerous awards by civic, conservation and outdoors organizations and acknowledgments by the press in the area of conservation. During his first years of the Senate Chaudhary attained multiple years of perfect legislative voting scores from the Conservation Minnesota Voter Center., and in 2005 Chaudhary was named the Minnesota Conservation Federation Legislator of the Year. By 2008 Ducks Unlimited recognized the senator as a Conservation Partner in Minnesota. In 2009 Senator Chaudhary and his wife were nominated for Outstanding Conservationists Award by Anoka Conservation District at the MASWCD Annual Meetings and Trade show for their efforts to deal with wetland damage near their Fridley, Minnesota home. While the family was eligible for state monies to fund the rainwater and curb-run off project, they opted to pay for the project on their own, allowing other families to utilize the grants. A 2010 article in the Asian American Press was titled Chaudhary Makes a Difference for Conservation, and later that year the papers listed his many awards from community sportsman organizations. Detractors, however, claimed that his suburban senate district was insufficiently served with so much legislative time spent on environment and outdoors issues. Chaudhary, however, expressed that these conservation, habitat, and environmental achievements were some of his proudest legislative accomplishments.In 1996, Satveer Chaudhary won the Democratic primary for the Minnesota House of Representatives seat in HD52A
Reelected in 1998 for two-year term
In 2000, Satveer Singh Chaudhary was elected to the State Senate SD52 as a member of the DFL
Reelected in 2002 as a democrat in a new senate district 50 as defined by the 2000 census
Reelected in 2006 as a democrat to SD 50
Defeated in 2010 in the primary election by former Minnesota House member Barb Goodwin. Did not run in the general election.
In 2002, a Republican political challenger of Chaudhary filed a complaint with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board against the "Friends of Satveer Chaudhary Committee". The complaint alleged that the campaign committee failed to report some contributions and expenditures on the committee’s Report of Receipts and Expenditures for 2000. Specifically, the Complainant alleged that the committee failed to report expenditures for mailings in 2000. All allegations against the "Friends of Satveer Chaudhary Committee" were dismissed by the board, but the matter was referred to the Ramsey County Attorney. The Ramsey County Attorney chose not to pursue the matter.
On April 25, 2006 the Saint Paul Police Department investigated a death threat made against the senator. Chaudhary, who had just voted against a ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage, had received a mailing containing a picture of himself with a bullet hole through his forehead. The picture was attached to a newspaper ad run promoting the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. In a media statement Chaudhary denounced the letter as political hate speech. The group that ran the ad - Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage - condemned the letter and said it doesn't condone threats of violence.
Controversy touched the senator again in 2006. In November of that year Satveer Chaudhary was re-elected to the Senate. Upon the victory his opponent, Republican Rae Hart Anderson, sent Chaudhary a concession email that said, "The race of your life is more important than this one--and it is my sincere wish that you'll get to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.". Chaudhary chose to ignore the comment.
During the 2010 Session of the Minnesota Legislature, Saint Louis County Commissioner, Dennis Fink, asked Senator Chaudhary to insert a provision into a fish and game bill that would place special fishing regulations Fish Lake in northern Minnesota. The Chaudhary family owns a cabin on leased land on part of the lake. The Senator then approached Representative David Dill on the House floor, and requested that he insert the language into the bill. After the close of session Republicans in the Senate raised a question as to the appropriateness of Chaudhary's change to the legislation. In response Senator Chaudhary requested that the Senate Ethics Panel provide an independent review of the situation, even though no complaint had been filed against him. On June 2, 2010, after finding that Chaudhary had no conflict of interest in introducing the legislation, the Minnesota Senate Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct admonished Senator Chaudhary for the manner in which he introduced the legislation and for violating procedure. In an editorial comment the Star Tribune noted that while the Senate subcommittee commended Senator Chaudhary for coming forward of his own volition, he was clearly rebuked by the bipartisian Committee. Other newspaper commentators, including Joe Soucheray on June 30, 2010 in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, questioned whether the issue had been blown out of proportion.
In May 2010, the Senate District 50 DFL Party leadership decided to hold a meeting in June 2010 to discuss revocation of Chaudhary's DFL endorsement due to Chaudhary's endorsement of DFL gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton over the DFL-endorsed candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher and the Fish Lake issue. On June 1, 2010 former State Representative Barbara Goodwin filed for office as a DFL candidate against Chaudhary in the Minnesota primary election to be held on August 10, 2010.
On July 8, 2010 the Duluth News Tribune reported that Senator Chaudhary and his wife owed the IRS $252,000 in past-due personal income taxes: $100,000 for 2007 and $151,000 for 2008. In response Chaudhary acknowledged that there was an existing payment plan with the IRS, and that the actual amount owed had just been determined in late 2009. Chaudhary stated the debt had been incurred due to a stock option issue with his wife's former employer. On August 1, 2010 it was announced that the family had paid the taxes in full.
On June 28, 2010, the Senate District 50 DFL Central Committee voted by over two-thirds to revoke their endorsement of Chaudhary and instead endorsed Barbara Goodwin as the new candidate for Minnesota Senate. Chaudhary appealed the Senate District Committee's decision to a special panel of the State DFL Party. On July 11, 2010, the special panel of the Minnesota DFL Party unanimously upheld the revocation of Chaudhary's endorsement. Chaudhary still chose to proceed to the Minnesota primary election as an unendorsed DFL candidate. On August 10, 2010, Chaudhary was defeated in the primary election. In November 2010 Barbara Goodwin defeated New Brighton City Council member, Gina Bauman, to win the District 50 Senate seat.
With the departure of Senator Satveer Chaudhary, and the 2010 retirements of Senator Mee Moua and Representative Cy Thao, there will be no individuals of Asian descent represented in the Minnesota legislature. Senator Chaudhary reported upon his retirement from the state senate, he will continue his involvement with outdoors issues and will be returning to his private law practice full-time.
Chaudhary is an attorney a small business owner and continues to volunteer for Minneapolis Legal Aid, SEWA-AIFW and various community organizations. His website reports he is still or has been a member of several boards and organizations. These are not limited to:
• Crime Victim and Witness Advisory Council, Past member • University of Minnesota Industrial Relations Advisory Council, Past member • Twin Cities International Citizen Award Committee • Columbia Heights Lions Club • Fridley Human Resources Commission, Past member • New Brighton Historical Society • Ducks Unlimited • Minnesota Deer Hunters Association • North American Hunting Club • St. Anthony Chamber of Commerce • New Brighton Sportsmen’s Club • Minnesota Pheasants Forever • New Brighton Eagles Club