A spate of news stories illustrate how this is the work of a consummate professional. Unfortunately for the Senate Republican comm office, Sviggum is in the wrong profession.
The MNDaily's Greta Kaul reports in Board will examine Sviggum’s Senate role for conflict of interest (an article that carries the subtitle: "Steve Sviggum, a former state legislator, didn’t approach the board before accepting his new position"):
The board met last week to discuss upcoming changes to its policy regarding conflicts of interest and University employees serving on the Board of Regents, Cohen said. But Sviggum didn’t bring up his new position, she said.
“That had nothing to do with this,” she said.
During that meeting, Sviggum said he clarified the new policy to make sure that it only applied to University employees serving as a regent, asking specifically about the possibility of a regent working for the state Senate. But he didn’t notify board members of his intentions to take a job at the Senate.
“I vetted the policy up front. I clarified the policy with the [general counsel]. I clarified with the chair,” Sviggum said.
Really, Steve? This is the sort of cleverness parents expect of a 13-year-old squirming to leave the house to conduct No Good, not of a man in his 60s who has just interviewed for a job that might create a conflict of interest.
Why not simply be specific and open within the Board?
MPR's OnCampus reporter Alex Friedrich reports in Is UMN regent Sviggum in another potential conflict of interest?:
Just how well will University of Minnesota regent Steve Sviggum represent the U now that the former state legislator has accepted a job as spokesman for the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus?
His move seems to have raised a few regents’ eyebrows – including those of Chairwoman Linda Cohen — just as a similar move ran afoul of a university conflict-of-interest committee last year.
Do his two jobs put him potentially on opposite sides of the state’s higher education debate?
As a regent, he must represent the interests of the university. That could mean advocating for more state spending for the U. But as a GOP spokesman, he’ll have to represent the interests of the Republican party — which has wanted to scale back spending dramatically. Just this last session, it called for deep cuts to the U’s budget, deeper than those proposed by the DFL.
Read the whole thing at MPR.
In Regents to 'consider' whether Sviggum's Senate job creates a conflict, even Rachel Stassen-Berger notes that Sviggum's tenure on the Regents' board has been "controversy-ridden."
Not to be upstaged by the hired help, Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem has retained the gavel of the chamber's bonding committee, the Mankato Free Press reports in Senjem says Senate bonding proposal to emphasize higher ed and infrastructure:
After the meeting, Senjem said the state’s interest — MSU as a tenant, in other words — would be important when the committee releases its bonding list.
“They’ve got hockey needs,” he said, and fixing their arena would be cheaper than building new.
In past years (and vetoes) the city has focused on a lack of parity — other civic centers have received state money while Mankato’s has not — but this time the city is focusing on its economic impact and the MSU connection.
The proposal, kicked off by an MSU employee and held in an MSU ballroom, was attended by perhaps 150 people, including many Mankato business people. There were several other bonding proposals presented, but most of the crowd left after the civic center presentation.
Even so, civic centers are not likely to be first on Republicans’ bonding list.
Infrastructure, especially old roads, bridges and wastewater systems, are likely to come first.
In Rochester, Senjem's home base, the Rochester Civic Center is thenumber one high ticket item on Governor Mark Dayton's bonding wish list, KAAL-TV reports. The Post Bulletin, an afternoon rag, will deliver the local reaction later today.
And even more melodrama is on its way from the Republicans, according to MPR's Daily Digest:
GOP Legislative leaders will be on MPR's Midday today at 11.
Tidbit: House Republicans will release their so-called Reform 2.0 proposal on Thursday.
To get a heads-up on the contours of that proposal, Bluestem is checking out the American Legislative Exchange Council's model bills, now archived at ALECExposed.
Photo: Steve Sviggum, drama queen extraordinary. Yes, Bluestem Readers, "Reform 2.0" is our latest online telenovela.