Sviggum will resign from U board

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  • March 8, 2012 - 12:50 PM

Steve Sviggum announced Thursday that he will resign from the University of Minnesota Board of Regents over conflict-of-interest concerns about his job with state Senate Republicans.

After giving an emotional statement to the board, Sviggum handed members of the press a letter announcing his resignation. Then he left the room.

"My reputation means a lot to me," he wrote. "Therefore, rather than fight and confront -- which would distract all of us from serving the higher goal of the University's and the State's best interest, I will for the second time walk away from something I love to do."

He also stated that, "I want to acknowledge upon reflection that for some there is an appearance of a conflict of interest."

After Sviggum left, the remaining 11 board members unanimously approved language calling on Sviggum to choose between the board post and his position as communications director for the Senate Republican caucus.

Earlier Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton said he told Sviggum that he was “embarrassing” both himself and the university by attempting to hold both jobs.

“I saw him at the Gophers hockey game last Friday and I told him that this situation was embarrassing him, embarrassing the university, and he needed to resolve it,” the governor said. “I think he should make a decision between one or the other.”

Dayton said his comments to Sviggum were “my advice as a friend.”

“I told him I had great respect for his years of service,” said the governor.

Earlier this year, Sviggum gave up his job with the U's Humphrey School of Public affairs after an ad hoc group of three regents recommended that he pick between his posts. Another regents panel made a similar recommendation last week.

Regent Clyde Allen said the board's actions were about the situation, not the person. "I hope in the long term, Regent Sviggum will be able to see that," he said.

-- Staff writer Mike Kaszuba contributed to this report.

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