Governance
Written by Tom Steward | March 7, 2017

More Political Spring Cleaning After US Bank Stadium Scandal

ThemThe two top politically connected Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority execs with deep ties to the Dayton Administration cleaned out their desks a couple weeks ago. But there’s still plenty more house cleaning to be done at the tainted state agency best known for dispensing perks to friends and family at two luxury suites at US Bank Stadium.

Minnesota House members united strongly on Monday behind major changes to the oversight of U.S. Bank Stadium, advancing a measure to scrub the staff and structure of its governing panel, even as Republicans prepared to launch another investigation into how its former leader snagged 50-yard-line seats for herself and friends.

The House voted to reconfigure the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) by a 122-7 margin, a pointed response to troubles under recently departed Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen and executive director Ted Mondale. Both resigned in February after two months of public criticism over their use of two luxury suites for friends and family for Minnesota Vikings games and concerts.

The proposed reforms appear to have bipartisan support in the Minnesota House, particularly in light of new revelations about Kelm-Helgen further exploiting her position to get access to season tickets before the public.

Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth and main sponsor of the House bill, called the MSFA activities egregious.

“Clearly there was gross negligence in the management of this board and we’re tightening things down to make sure it never happens again,” she said during a two-hour floor debate.

Even though Kelm-Helgen has left the MSFA payroll, her tenure came under further criticism after the Star Tribune reported that she had moved ahead of longtime Vikings season ticket-holders in acquiring choice seats for herself, friends and family members. The seats also gave them priority rights for other stadium events.

Anderson suggested that the seat purchases might carry criminal implications, and open the state to liability from Vikings fans with ticket seniority. She said her office got a call from one fan who previously had a front-row seat and complained that he got bumped to the third row, behind Kelm-Helgen’s group.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, heaped blame on Dayton, saying the administration did not hold Kelm-Helgen responsible. Before taking the stadium position, Kelm-Helgen was a deputy chief of staff for Dayton.

“The public deserves to know who received preferential treatment in season-tickets purchases,” Daudt said. But he said any inquiry into that would be separate from the reorganization of the MSFA.

The proposed reforms include selling off the two MSFA luxury suites under MSFA control and firing the remaining three commissioners on the board. In addition, MSFA commissioners would pay their own way to events at US Bank Stadium.

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