A short overview of the current Sviggum-Regents affair

What will the U's Board of Regents do?

I’ve got calls in to see where we go from here with the University of Minnesota’s review of whether  regent Steve Sviggum’s two jobs conflict with each other.

For now, though, here’s a quick roundup of how things stand:

Less than a year after being told his regent’s job was not compatible with a position he’d gained as a Humphrey School fellow (and thus university employee), the former state legislator has raised a few eyebrows again.

After news broke that he’d accepted a job as state Senate Republican Caucus spokesman, Regents Chairwoman Linda Cohen and Vice Chairman David Larson voiced concerns yesterday over a potential conflict of interest between his regent’s position and the Senate position.

Larson said Sviggum’s duties as a party representative could theoretically clash with those as regent (think: state higher-education/U funding and policy), and Cohen said regents will consider looking into the matter.

Sviggum, however, says he sees no potential conflict of interest, essentially because he holds no voting position, and said the board’s draft conflict of interest policy doesn’t forbid it. He also said Cohen and Larson had told him that U regulations only prohibited elected officials and U employees from becoming regents.

Sviggum told MPR’s Cathy Wurzer this morning that he wouldn’t step down even if the board found a potential conflict. He also that the board was wrong last year as well when it forced him to choose between his regents’ position and the Humphrey fellow job.