Dispute on Sports Facilities board leads to sudden resignation


The treasurer of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority resigned Friday, saying he could no longer work with the authority's chair.

Duane Benson, a former Republican legislator and Oakland Raiders linebacker, made the announcement at the end of the group's meeting Friday.

Multiple reports indicate that Benson claimed authority chair Michele Kelm-Helgen called him "untrustworthy" and a "liar."

Benson's resignation appears to be related to a continuing dispute over Kelm-Helgen's pay.

MPR News notes that a recent state report shows Kelm-Helgen is paid more than $35,000 less than her male counterpart Ted Mondale. According to the report, Kelm-Helgen is paid $127,000 annually, while Mondale is making just over $162,000.

According to the Star Tribune, Benson said he fails to understand why the board has two people – Kelm-Helgen and executive Director Ted Mondale – acting as CEOs on the project.

The Republican-controlled House moved to strip away Kelm-Helgen's salary during the legislative session, but that prompted an angry response from the governor and the in the end her salary was left unchanged.

The dispute had gone public a few months ago and had lingered during the last few MSFA board meetings.

Kelm-Helgen acknowledged to MPR News there has been a mistrust between her and Benson, which has made it difficult to work together.

"I don't believe I called him a liar," Kelm-Helgen told MPR. "I did have a conversation with him telling him that I'm very disappointed, that what happened at the meeting was very different from what he told me his position would be the night before."

A fellow commissioner, John Griffith, told the Star Tribune after the meeting that Benson's decision was disappointing – an opinion the newspaper says was echoed by Vikings vice president Lester Bagley.

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