Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dean of the University of Minnesota's medical school Aaron Friedman put his head in his hands during a hearing with Minnesota attorney general Lori Swanson on the proposed takeover of the University of Minnesota Medical Center and Fairview Health Systems by South Dakota's Sanford Health during a hearing at the Minnesota State Capitol on Sunday, April 7, 2013, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Renee Jones Schneider)

The University of Minnesota will suspend talks with donors linked to a proposal that would give a South Dakota-based company control over Fairview Health Services, officials announced during a public hearing Sunday.

Rotenberg said the new policy will assure Minnesotans that any acquisition talks won't be tainted by potential conflicts involving any "gifts for football or athletics or anything else," according to the Star Tribune.

Swanson welcomed the moratorium. She said Minnesota taxpayers have a major stake in the future of the university's medical franchise and in Fairview, which has grown largely due to its tax-exempt status as a nonprofit.

Swanson said her job is to protect Minnesota's investments, according to the Star Tribune, and make sure the assets are not inappropriately siphoned off to an out-of-state company.

According to the Pioneer Press, she questioned whether there has been an inappropriate commingling of merger talks with university efforts to raise money for its athletic department, either from Sanford Health or Sanford.

The attorney general pointed to a recent email from a Sanford Health official to university President Eric Kaler that was largely focused on the merger but in closing briefly mentioned fundraising efforts for university athletics, the Pioneer Press said.

"Sports and athletic donations have nothing to do with the merger of a hospital system," Swanson said of the email. "It doesn't look good."

The Star Tribune was the first to report about the email Sunday.

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