In “Bop McNaney, problem reporter: A case study,” I wrote about the hit piece by KSTP Eyewitness News reporter Bob McNaney this past Thursday on the investiture ceremony of United Attorney Rachel Paulose. The theme of McNaney’s hit piece was that the event was extravagant, even though it cost only $225.
The cost was held down in part by the use of the University of St. Thomas Law School’s atrium for the event, which the school contributed at no charge. McNaney cited the school’s usual rental fee of $1,500 for the use of the atrium and faulted Rachel’s acceptance of the waiver of the fee because it allegedly created “the appearance of a conflict.”
In my post I pointed out that the school routinely offers the free use of its facilities for judicial functions, a fact which McNaney somehow omitted from his report. On Friday I put in a call to University of St. Thomas Law School Dean Thomas Mengler, who returned it yesterday. (I got to know Dean Mengler in the course of the three years I taught at the law school as an adjunct professor.)
Dean Mengler told me that he had spoken to McNaney before the story aired and explained that the law school seeks to use its location downtown Minneapolis to host events for government functions and nonprofit organizations such as the Minnesota State Bar Association. He told me that he had given McNaney the $1,500 rental figure for use of the atrium and told him that $1,500 was “the sticker price.” He emphasized to me that he told McNaney that the fee is regularly waived for events such as Rachel’s investiture and that he told McNaney “there’s no story here.”
I asked Dean Mengler about the use of the school’s facility at no charge for judicial functions. Dean Mengler said that the Minneapolis-based judges and staff of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit had just spent a week occupying offices at the law school at no charge (in connection, I think, with some courthouse remodeling). It’s hard to believe that a scandal of this magnitude has escaped the attention of the Twin Cities media, or that McNaney hasn’t returned to the scene of the crime for additional investigation.
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