Ad-hoc regents committee to discuss Sviggum case Friday

University of Minnesota Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Cohen told me this evening she has ordered an ad-hoc committee to look into whether Steve Sviggum should hold both his regent position and his Senate GOP staff job.

Cohen said the committee will meet with Sviggum Friday -- probably at 11 a.m. -- in the board offices.

The committee should be able to decide that day what course of action it will recommend to the board on the matter, she said.

Cohen called the meeting despite not having seen the two legal opinions she ordered Feb. 10.

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The two opinions -- one from the U's general counsel and one from outside attorney John Stout -- were supposed to help her decide whether to make a recommendation to the board or appoint a committee to look further. They were originally due last Friday, but Cohen said last week that at least one had been delayed.

She said the decision to move ahead with the committee before reading the opinions was mostly a "logistical" matter. She needed to call the meeting early enough, she said, so that it could be held Friday and still meet open-meeting notification laws.

She said she wanted regents to have as much time as possible to consider the matter before gathering for the monthly board meetings March 8 and 9.

And if the legal opinions see no conflict of interest?

Cohen said she would "certainly think about that very hard."

Sviggum has been notified, she said, but when I called his house to get a comment, I was told he was away at a meeting.

Cohen said she, Vice Chairman David Larson and regent David McMillan will be on the committee.