Ted Mondale and Michelle Kelm-Helgen resigned from the Metro Sports Utilities Commission yesterday, after the corruption in the MSFC’s use of luxury skyboxes as a spiff for the Twin Cities’ DFL became to great for even the Metro old-boy-and-girl network to hush up.
Mondale and Kelm-Helgen faced cascading criticism and scrutiny since the Star Tribune reported in November that they and other MSFA commissioners hosted friends, family and well-connected DFLers at two 18-person luxury suites at the stadium during Vikings games and at several concerts. The two said the state-owned suites were needed to market the building, but an investigation by Legislative Auditor James Nobles revealed the suites were used mostly for entertainment by the MSFA commissioners and staff.
The Legislative Auditors report sounds like it’s good reading:
[Legislative Auditor James Nobles’] 100-page report faulted Kelm-Helgen and Mondale’s leadership of the MSFA, saying they had violated a core ethical principle by using public office for personal gain, by handing out free tickets, VIP parking, food and drink to friends and allies.
Combined, the two made nearly $300,000 in taxpayer-funded salaries. They oversaw construction of the $1.1 billion stadium, which was funded in part with a $498 million public subsidy.
And the saga of Michelle Kelm-Helgen, DFL grandée extraordinaire, sounds like a “how-to” for any political glad-hander in a one-party city;
Even before the suite usage blew up, an unclear division of duties between Mondale and Kelm-Helgen became an issue. Former authority members Duane Benson and John Griffith had questioned the need for two taxpayer-funded executives in similar roles. They also raised concerns about Kelm-Helgen’s lack of collaboration.
“We were on a board that had an inability to get information,” Benson said, adding that Kelm-Helgen also refused to let the board participate in her job reviews.
Remember way back when Zygi Wilf was yanking the DFL-led Legislature and Governor
Flint-Smith Dayton around, threatening to move the team if the state didn’t pony up to improve his investment for him at public expense? And we asked – what could possibly go wrong when you entrust half a billion dollars to an bunch of unaccountable bureaucrats whose sole qualification was their DFL political connection?
Because you should remember it.