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Vikings Stadium Board Treasurer Duane Benson Resigns

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The panel overseeing construction of the new Vikings stadium is looking for a new member after its treasurer quits following a dust-up with the board's chair.

Duane Benson told NewsRadio 830 WCCO that his decision Friday to resign came after the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority's April board meeting, when chair Michele Kelm-Helgen had a cellphone conversation with him about pay equity.

"She called me and indicated that I was a liar and couldn't be trusted and other things that were kind of an assault of my integrity," Benson said.

He says the call came on his cellphone as he was driving back to his home in Lanesboro after the meeting in Minneapolis.

"In 40 years of public life I've never had anyone accuse me of these things," he said.

Benson says he has no plans to change his mind.

"I haven't seen any compelling reason not to stick with the decision," Benson said.

He says he has not talked with Kelm-Helgen since announcing his plans to resign, and says he does not expect her to contact him.

Kelm-Helgen reportedly said she doesn't recall calling Benson a liar, and in a statement noted that he is dissatisfied with the authority's structure.

"It was well documented following the MSFA board meeting in March that Commissioner Benson disagreed with the organizational structure and leadership roles for MSFA that were prescribed in the legislation that created our organization and guides our work," Kelm-Helgen said in a recent statement. "The discussions of those matters have also been well publicized, and I don't intend to prolong any further debate."

Benson has said in the past he does not understand why both Kelm-Helgen and Ted Mondale are acting as CEOs for the project, and said his resignation should not affect the timeline for finishing the stadium.

"Let me say, clearly, this is not about me and my hurt feelings, or any of those kind of things," Benson said. "This is about building a quality, world-class stadium under budget and in time."

Benson says he told Gov. Mark Dayton of his decision after the phone call in April and promised not to announce his resignation until after the legislative session.

"It's a great weight off my shoulders to have it kind of behind me," Benson said.

It is now up to Dayton to appoint a replacement.

"If I'm in the way, I'm removing myself," Benson said. "Someone else can pick up the gauntlet and hopefully they'll ask questions. In my experience, that's your job in government."

Benson's resignation will go into effect on Aug. 1.

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