Sviggum Job To Get Legal Investigation

The University of Minnesota regent chairwoman wants a legal opinion about whether former House Speaker Steve Sviggum may serve on the university’s governing body while being the Senate Republicans’ communications director.

“After I have considered the opinions of our attorneys, I will make a determination regarding the conflict and bring forward a recommendation to the board, or I will appoint an ad hoc group to assist me with these tasks,” Chairwoman Linda Cohen said. “This is a complex and serious matter that warrants our careful review and due diligence.”

While there is general consensus that a partisan elected official cannot be a regent, it is not as clear if a partisan staff member who does not make policy decisions can serve in both jobs.

“It is my intent to have the full board discuss and act upon any recommendation before, or at the beginning of, our regular March meeting,” Cohen said.

At Cohen’s request, Sviggum did not vote during the February regents’ meeting, but he has contended since he took the Senate job early this year that there is no conflict of interest.