North Dakota State University denies that President Dean Bresciani has a personal driver and bodyguard despite records indicating that the employee in question drives Bresciani regularly. NDSU claims that the university employee in question is a security liaison.
Seeking a fuller understanding of what it is this “security liaison” does every day, I put in a request for records to NDSU General Counsel Christopher Wilson. In included in my request this question:
Has Mr. Magnusson ever served as a driver for anyone other than President Dean Bresciani? Specially, has he served as a driver for Mr. Bresciani’s wife?
University sources have told me that Magnusson has, in fact, chauffeured Bresciani’s wife. Unfortunately, Wilson deemed my question a mere question and not a request for a specific public record and decided he didn’t have to answer. This is what he wrote to me in an email sent at 4:44pm yesterday afternoon:
Your request is for information, not records, and is therefore not covered by the public records laws.
I sent a follow-up email to Wilson last night asking if he would “care to provide the information that you don’t consider records in the interest of good faith disclosure to the public?” I haven’t received a response, which is typical. The folks at NDSU only respond to me if they’re compelled to under the open records laws.
So does this “security liaison” drive around President Bresciani’s wife? That’s what I’m told, but the university won’t answer me one way or another. Of course, it would be easy enough for them to clear the matter up with a straight answer.
UPDATE: Per the comments, I should add that I have no idea if Bresciani even has a wife. Maybe he just has a lady friend? Maybe he’s unattached? I don’t know. I was told something that would be pertinent to the story if true. I tried to verify it with NDSU, and they refuse to answer.
But there are records which indicate that Magnusson’s job is pretty much exactly as the Fargo Forum reported. I requested copies of Magnusson’s performance evaluations going back the last five years. You can read them below. On page 10 of the PDF, note these comments from Bresciani’s executive assistant praising Magnusson for what a good job he does working in the President’s Suite at sporting events and making sure the President and others got where they needed to go.
Which is, you know, what a bodyguard/chauffeur does.
This was written in Magnusson’s 2012 evaluation, and it also describes Magnusson as a member of Bresciani’s office staff:
Someone who is posted in a suite with VIP’s during sporting events, and is in charge of getting them around, is a bodyguard/chauffeur. Calling him a “security liaison” is a euphemism, and a convenient one.
In fact, if you read through the documents below, you can see that NDSU goes to great lengths to avoid flat-out describing Magnusson as a bodyguard or a chauffeur, which isn’t surprising. When Magnusson was acting as former NDSU President Joe Chapman’s chauffeur and bodyguard it earned NDSU a lot of flak in the media.
The university still has Magnusson doing pretty much the same thing as he did under Chapman, they’re just calling it something different now.
Which is pretty much the level of honesty we’ve come to expect from the state’s universities.