Thursday, February 9, 2012

For no man can serve two masters...

Please Resign Regent Sviggum

[Update: at Friday morning Board of Regents meeting Sviggum did NOT resign. Full post later.]

The chair of the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents will announce Friday how the board will examine whether Regent Steve Sviggum's new state Senate job creates a conflict of interest.
"It seems to many people and to some board members that there is a conflict," said Regent Linda Cohen. "But we have not determined anything as a board."

Sviggum, a former speaker of the House and commissioner of Labor and Industry, said that as the Senate GOP's communications chief, for which he is paid $102,000 a year, he is not a "decisionmaker" and thus cannot have a conflict of interest. "I would argue that if you're not making decisions, it's very hard to make a decision that benefits you or your institution or your organization," he said.
But several newspapers' editorial boards and university employees have argued that such disclosure does not solve a larger issue of whether Sviggum's paid position with the Senate will make him a less effective regent.

The Republican caucus' plans may have "legitimate policy positions that sacrifice higher education investments for investments elsewhere in the state," said Cramer, who is chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee but said he was not speaking on behalf of the committee.

When that happens, Cramer said by e-mail, Sviggum will not be able to advocate for the University of Minnesota as a regent ought to.


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