U Regents leaders: We may scrutinize Sviggum's new job

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."

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