Late this afternoon I asked University of Minnesota Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Cohen and Vice Chairman David Larson whether they thought regent Steve Sviggum’s new position as Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus spokesman represented a potential conflict of interest — and whether they felt the need to do anything.
Cohen said that although the board’s policy doesn’t address Sviggum’s exact situation, “we’re going to consider looking into it. I will do some consulting with our legal counsel, sit down with Steve and have a conversation with him, and then consider.”
She told me:
“I think there could be a potential conflict of interest.”
Larson said another regent has expressed to him “concern over a potential conflict.” He told me, “I don’t know exactly what that (Senate) job constitutes, but it does raise a potential red flag.”
Potential conflicts, however, wouldn’t necessarily doom Sviggum’s position as regent, Larson said. He told me:
“If (a regent’s duty) happens to be in conflict with a particular political party’s stance on some issues, maybe it’s manageable, maybe it’s not. Maybe Sviggum could recuse himself.”