Did Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt break the spirit of Minnesota Statute 10A.071 and violate Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board Advisory Opinion 287 (Gift to official of special seating rights at athletic event) when he purchased a ticket to sit in Minneapolis Star Tribune and Minnesota Timberwolves owner (and Minnesota United FC investor) Glen Taylor's luxury suite during a Vikings game earlier this month?
A few days back, the Star Tribune's stadium beat reporter Rochelle Olson shared an interesting series of tweets:
MInutes before the game @kdaudt told me the MSFA should release names of guests in suites. Now he's silent on his own suite sitch.— Rochelle Olson (@rochelleolson) December 2, 2016
We wonder whether the general public can purchase a single seat in billionaire Gen Taylor's suite--and wonder whether the general public can purchase single seats in other luxury suites.
Why does this matter? Taylor owns or has invested in three companies that are registered as "associations" with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board: the Star Tribune (though its lobbyist and the Strib went their separate way at the end of 2015), the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota United FC soccer team.
Here's an advisory opinion about the "Gift to official of special seatings at athletic event" from the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board:
Can everyone with the cash purchase a single ticket in a privately-held luxury seat? In an unlicensed suite, if any remain?
There's definitely some public interest related to Taylor's "associations" that might require some of Speaker Daudt's attention in St. Paul. Olson reported on December 3 that Vikings threaten lawsuit over possible Minnesota United soccer games at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Not to mention this June 1 article by Frederick Melo in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, St. Paul’s soccer stadium was supposed to break ground in June. What happens now?:
The legislation providing the stadium with a key property-tax exemption has been held up by political wrangling between the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton, who are at an impasse over a tax bill. The governor could yet call a special legislative session this season, but that’s a major maybe.
The point is, the law (as understood by the board) may suggest that it is irrelevant whether he paid for the ticket or not, given that Taylor has business before the state.
This incident doesn't excuse the members of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), from an alleged separate scandal, first reported by Olson in Work or perk? U.S. Bank Stadium executives have free access to luxury suite seats. At Minnesota Public Radio, Tim Pugmire reported in Officials’ use of Vikings stadium suites triggers probe that the state legislative auditor is looking into the matter. We'll know soon whether laws where broken.
Rather, both episodes illustrate the moral hazards of crony capitalism and state government at work for privately-held sports stadiums. If we're going to put up with this sort of thing, Bluestem hopes that members of both major parties and their moneyed interest pals join together to rebuild schools, close the graduation gap, create a 21th century distributed electrical grid for clean energy, plant pollinator habitat or other such worthy projects if they really can't restrain themselves from such behavior.
Photo: Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt cavorting in Glen Taylor's USBank Stadium luxury suite. Rochelle Olson via twitter.
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