MINNEAPOLIS - The chairwoman and CEO of the authority overseeing the Minnesota Vikings' stadium have resigned after weeks of criticism over the questionable use of luxury suites by family and friends.
Both Ted Mondale and Michele Kelm-Helgen announced their resignations on Thursday.
"The ongoing discussion on the use of MSFA suites has become a distraction to marketing the stadium," Kelm-Helgen said in a released statement. "If I could go back and start over again, MSFA would have had a public discussion on the use of these suites and forbid the use of them by family and friends from the start. When questions about the suites use were raised, MSFA took responsibility, and then passed and implemented a new policy in December that no longer allows family and friends in the suites."
"I have been honored to be part of a great group of talented and dedicated individuals who put their hearts and souls into developing this stadium, every day and through many nights," said Mondale in a released statement. "I am proud to have had the opportunity to have worked with them all. I feel good about my work, but it is time to move on."
A recent legislative audit found that nearly half of the tickets for a pair of suites controlled by the stadium authority were issued to friends and family of top officials. No state laws were broken, but Republican legislators have been pursuing major changes to the authority structure.
The announced resignation does not appear to be enough for republican lawmakers, who vow to continue their full-court press on cleaning up the MSFA.
"Chair Kelm-Helgen's resignation comes days after we learned that the MSFA—without proper authority—entered into million dollar contracts that continue a disturbing pattern of Democrats using this board to help their political allies," said Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, Chair of the House State Government Finance Committee. "This is the People's Stadium, not the People Closest to the DFL Party's Stadium. House Republicans will continue to investigate the MSFA's activities and ensure that they are held accountable for breaching the public's trust and violating ethical principles."
Anderson says the four remaining commissioners should also consider exiting their posts, saying all were responsible for suite misuse.
During a news conference Thursday, Gov. Mark Dayton credited both for recognizing their presence on the authority was becoming a detriment.
Gov Dayton says he hopes Kelm-Helgen's and Mondale's departure will help people move on, regain perspective pic.twitter.com/IRYLStwRMc— John Croman (@JohnCroman) February 16, 2017
Dayton added that he didn't ask for their resignations and that the remaining four commissioners should remain in place. Dayton will likely appoint an interim chair when Kelm-Helgen leaves March 8.