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State Senate asked to delay picking U of M regents

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A leading state lawmaker has asked Senate leadership to postpone selection of University of Minnesota regents until next month's state review of the university's drug-trial program.

  Senate Higher Education Committee chair Terri Bonoff confirmed Friday she has asked Majority Leader Tom Bakk to delay the process in light of a letter from former Gov. Arne Carlson that was critical of the university.

  In his letter, delivered Thursday, Carlson expressed concern over the university's handling of patients in clinical drug research trials, as well as regents' oversight.

  Carlson said the program has a history of deaths, injuries and conflicts of interest. He described the selection of the 11-member Board of Regents as "little more than a political beauty contest."

  A key concern in the letter is the 2004 suicide of drug trial participant Dan Markingson.  

"There's enough in [the letter] that is so damning on the entire process surrounding the Markingson case," Bonoff said.

Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, said next month's legislative audit would help lawmakers evaluate regents better.

"I just think it's important so that we have the most information possible. I don't want a cloud over this process," Bonoff said.

To delay the regents' selection, the Minnesota Legislature would have to pass a resolution to do so.   Bakk could not be reached for comment. U of M officials had no comment.  

Ten candidates are vying for five positions on the 11-member board.