Unexpected selection might unseat

Stacy Jo

William Hogan II will likely lose his position as chairman of the Board of Regents.
In a surprising upset Monday night, the chairman lost the endorsement for re-election to the board following allegations of unethical business practices and implications in a decade-long University Anti-Lympocyte Globulin scandal.
Hogan holds one of four positions up for grabs on the University’s top governing board.
The state Legislature elects one regent from each of the state’s congressional districts. A caucus of legislators from the 2nd, 3rd and 8th districts met last night to endorse candidates for a vote before the House and Senate on Thursday. The last seat is at-large and does not use caucus endorsement.
Only twice in the state’s history have regents endorsed by the districts not been elected to the positions.
Hogan, a popular regent and chairman of the board, lost his district’s endorsement to Richard Clarke, a mechanical engineer from Plymouth, by a vote of 63 to 39.
Rep. Peggy Leppik, R-Golden Valley, questioned whether Hogan received money from other regents for investments and whether he has used University fund-raising lists to solicit money for his business ventures. The regent is the chief executive officer of his own company.
Clearly surprised by the questions, Hogan denied all crossovers between his company and his work at the University.
“I’m not sure that these questions are really very fair,” Hogan added.
Rep. Betty Folliard, DFL-Hopkins, chided Leppik for her interrogation of Hogan.
“I was going to ask if Peggy Leppik hired an independent counsel,” said Folliard, who verbally announced her vote for Hogan although voting was conducted by secret ballot.
Leppik defended her line of questioning, saying that everyone in the room had heard some, if not all, of the allegations before. She said she was trying be fair by allowing Hogan to address these concerns before the committee.
Rep. Ron Abrams, R-Minnetonka, also raised questions about Hogan in light of the University’s handling of the decade-long ALG scandal. The University’s surgical department came under federal investigation after the University uncovered researchers misused federal funds.
Several legislators defended Hogan, noting that he was not a board member during the scandal and that he tried to undo the damage created by the ALG ordeal.
“This process has been very illuminating,” Hogan said. “I don’t believe I’ve been treated the same as the others.”
Sen. Randy Kelly, DFL-St. Paul, told his colleagues they needed to consider who would best represent the state. He said legislators must think about what message they might be sending by unseating Hogan.
“Everybody has to vote their own conscience with respect to these decisions,” Kelly said.
In the second district, legislators endorsed Dallas Bohnsack, a University graduate who said it would be his sole mission to represent agriculture on the board. Regent Julie Bleyhl, whose term expired on Friday, wanted to keep her 2nd District seat on the board, but the incumbent from this district was not nominated.
Four candidates vied for the 8th District endorsement. Legislators chose to forward Anthony Baraga’s name to the chairpersons of Tuesday’s joint committee.