Former state House Speaker Steve Sviggum says there is no conflict of interest between his new job as a senior legislative staffer and his seat on the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents.
Sviggum started yesterday as spokesman and executive assistant for the Minnesota Senate Republican caucus. His fellow regents said Tuesday night that they want to weigh whether that position may conflict with running a state-funded institution like the University.
Sviggum said he doesn't see any conflict of interest between his positions on the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents and as a senior staffer with the state Senate.
"I cannot make a decision. I do not make a decision," in the state Senate, he said. "I am only empowered by the senators themselves. There is not a conflict of interest if you cannot make a decision.
Sviggum, who was speaker of the Minnesota House from 1998 through 2006, also told MPR that he talked with university officials before applying for the job.
"I did speak to the executive director of, now, the board of regents. I did speak to University of Minnesota counsel. I did speak to the chair and the vice chair of the board of regents," he said.
The Senate's 2012 session starts Tuesday.