Minnesota officials defend free suites for Vikings games as needed to conduct, uh, “business”

Here we go again: The Minneapolis Star Tribune revealed yesterday that board members of the state-run Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority get use of two free luxury suites to Vikings games as part of the deal that approved more than a billion dollars in public stadium subsidies. That’s fairly common, as is outrage over the impropriety of such deals once they’re revealed.

The twist in the Minneapolis case is that even though the suites are supposed to be used for business purposes (wink, wink), nobody on the MSFA will say who’s using the tickets (and free food and parking passes), and insist that secrecy is vital to the cause of conducting government business at football games:

MSFA Chairwoman Michele Kelm-Helgen and Executive Director Ted Mondale say confidentiality is critical as they seek to book the stadium’s event spaces to cover the cost of amateur events such as high school football, baseball and soccer games, along with University of Minnesota baseball games.

“If people think they’re going to be in the newspaper, it’s not going to be effective,” Mondale said.

Or it could be because they’re bringing family members and campaign donors to games, in violation of the state’s ban on public officials accepting gifts outside of their government duties. Who can say! That’s what makes secrecy so fun!

The big question here, obviously, is whether there was some sort of quid pro quo that induced state officials to approve the stadium funding by offering them free tickets to games. Probably not directly — the people on the MSFA board aren’t the same legislators who voted to approve the deal back in 2012. But lots of stuff happens indirectly in politics, which is why there are laws against taking gifts. Plus it just looks really, really bad when taxpayers are paying the bills on a $1-billion-plus stadium plus PSL fees and higher ticket prices, and state bigwigs are getting to watch games for free.

(Also, obligatory note: Ha ha, Ted Mondale thinks people still read the newspaper! He’s so quaint.)

9 comments on “Minnesota officials defend free suites for Vikings games as needed to conduct, uh, “business”

  1. I hate to get too deeply into politics, but the Democrats wonder why people think they are just as corrupt and self-serving as Republicans, and why there can be enough anti-establishment sentiment to elect someone like Trump…

    but then when something like the Stadium comes along the governor and his buddies help push it through (in large part to shuffle taxpayer money off to unions/rich) despite it being clear people are not actually that supportive. And then do crap like this which just reeks and looks terrible. The MN DFL and Dayton in particular do this all the time with their appointees.

    When you are choosing between a 0 and a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10, sometimes people might just pick the 0 as a big “fuck you”. Which is so disappointing because I don’t think it would take much for either party to get themselves up to a 3 or 4. Unfortunately, the incentives are structured the wrong way and anyone in a position to change them is already benefiting from the current system.

  2. Good for the Star Tribune to run this piece. Can’t imagine that anything will actually change, though.

    • Yeah its his son. He was one of the point people on getting this through the legislature. So now he has a cushy job as a reward for organizing the graft.

  3. Reminds me of Chicago alderman Tom Tunney who after selling out his ward to Cub special interests , went on TV complaining when he wasn’t allowed to buy world series tickets at face value when the tax payers were paying thousands on the secondary market. The snake actually claimed in front of a TV news crew that he needed to conduct business at the game.

  4. Everybody sees the way family connections have paid off for Ted but Kelm-Helgen is also a second generation player in Minnesota Democrat politics. Her dad, Tom Kelm, was Chief-of-Staff for Gov. Wendell Anderson and a power broker in state politics for decades.

  5. They’re typical bumbling Minnesota pols, the kind I regularly buy off, or bamboozle when possible since that’s much cheaper.