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Bitter allegations over bonding by state Sen. Senjem strongly refuted by Dayton’s office

An angry battle of words has broken out between GOP state Sen. Dave Senjem of Rochester and Gov. Mark Dayton over proposed bonding for Rochester’s Civic Center.

According to the Rochester Post Bulletin, Senjem says the governor demanded that a bonding request for improvements to the Civic Center be lowered on a priority list during the 2012 session.

The governor’s office quickly refuted the claims, saying Senjem didn’t support his own city’s request. Dayton spokesman Bob Hume called Senjem’s allegations “dishonest and shameful.”

Senjem said the demand for a lower ranking was related to the city of St. Paul’s request for bonding to fund the St. Paul Saints ballpark. The Saints project didn’t get funded in the regular bonding bill, but later received $25 million in a supplemental bonding appropriation.

Said the paper’s story:

Senjem says the push to reorder the projects all had to do with a promise made by the governor months earlier. He was in a meeting when the governor promised funding for a new St. Paul Saints ballpark in exchange for five votes for the proposed Vikings stadium.

“It could have gone forward but for the commitment to the Saints stadium,” Senjem said.

But Hume, in a written statement, said:

“Senator Senjem’s accusations are completely untrue.  Governor Dayton had no involvement in the review or rating of projects by DEED’s professional staff last year; nor did he in any way alter their rankings.  

“During the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions, however, the Governor did everything possible to include funding for Rochester’s Civic Center in each year’s bonding bill.  Unfortunately, Senator Senjem did not fund his own city’s project, even though he chaired the Senate’s Bonding Committee both years and, in 2012, was the Majority Leader. 

“For him to try to shift the blame for his own failure onto Governor Dayton is dishonest and shameful.”

The paper reported Senjem’s response to the Hume’s statement:

Senjem said he expected the governor’s office to deny the allegations. He declined to say where he received his information but said it was “on very good authority.”

He added, “You are never going to get anybody from the governor’s office to admit that.”

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