University of Minnesota officials: Sviggum did not consult with us

I’ve already gone over the point that University of Minnesota regent Steve Sviggum says he “vetted” his new state Senate Republican Caucus spokesman position with board Chairman Linda Cohen and David Larson last week to make sure it didn’t present a conflict of interest with his regent’s job.

He also told me he’d also mentioned running it by the U’s general counsel, Mark Rotenberg.

But those U officials say he never really vetted it.

Here’s what they said late today in an official announcement:

Joint statement from U of M Board of Regents Chair Linda Cohen and university General Counsel Mark Rotenberg:

“It is important to clarify media reports relating to Regent Steve Sviggum’s decision to accept a senior staff role with the majority caucus of the Minnesota Senate.

“Regent Sviggum did not discuss the job or consult about it with either the chair or vice chair of the Board of Regents prior to taking the position. Nor did Regent Sviggum discuss taking this position with the university general counsel or seek his advice about doing so.

“The general counsel will be providing legal advice to the board as it considers this situation under the terms of its Code of Ethics and determines what steps are necessary to take in the best interests of the board and the university.”


In his talk with me on Tuesday, Sviggum qualified his statements by saying hadn’t mentioned that specific job when he spoke to the U officials.

He told me:

“I spoke about positions in the MnSCU system, positions at the state Senate, positions at the state House, at the legislature, in state government … (and whether) the policy (would) prohibit any of those from being on the board of regents, and the answer was no. It was precisely to deal with employees of the university.”

  • Greenbayguy

    Sadly, this appears to be a bad fit, as the U seems intent on denying Sviggum the right to gainful employment.

  • Chazz

    Having a job with a political party while you are also asked to make decisions in the best interest of the University that are then voted on by the politicians seems to present a definite conflict of interest to me. If Mr. Sviggum needs a job, he should step aside as a Regent, or work somewhere outside the political realm, or the U of M. In point of fact, there were a number of other more qualified candidates besides Sviggum, to sit on the Board, who were ignored by the appointing body. 

  • DanW52

    It sounds like Mr. Sviggum is not able to communicate in an accurate way about his conversations with University officials.  That qualifies him perfectly for the job of Communications Director for the Republican Party.