Kluwe to meet with investigators next week, says lawyer: "My client has one motivation"
Tony Nelson for City Pages
The investigation into Chris Kluwe's allegations against the Vikings is on.
"Our goal is that at the end of the day, for sports teams to adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward any form of discrimination against any member of the LGBT community," said Kluwe's lawyer, Clayton Halunen, in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. "The Vikings have told us that they are on board with that, and they will work with us towards that."
Last Thursday, the former Vikings punter published an explosive Deadspin column, titled, "I was an NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards and a Bigot."
The team kicked into action, and the very next day, announced that it had hired two investigators with chops: a former Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice, Eric Magnuson, and a one-time prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, Chris Madel. Both are now partners at the Minneapolis-based firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi.
Magnuson and Madel are tasked with reviewing Kluwe's account and recommending action. But what that review will look like is still taking shape.
They will analyze documents, including text messages and emails, and their witness list could be as many as 80 names long, according to Halunen.
The biggest question mark is whether the identities of those witnesses, particularly those whom Kluwe names to back up his account, will be made public.
"A lot of it's going to come down to the Vikings' agreement on issues regarding protecting the identity of witnesses," explains Halunen. "My client has great interest in preserving their anonymity, because he does not want them to be blackballed, or retaliated against in any way."
While Halunen and Kluwe will try to "protect the witnesses to the best we can," Halunen says, they ultimately have an obligation to the investigation. "My client understands that," Halunen continues, "and we will provide full information that corroborates his allegations."
Because the investigation isn't in the realm of criminal or civil court, Magnuson and Madel's hands are tied to a degree. They won't be able to subpoena information, or have witnesses give sworn testimony.
Kluwe, who now lives in California, is set to travel to the Twin Cities next week to meet with the investigators for the first time. The exact date is still pending. Halunen says he doesn't know what the initial interview will involve.
One of the investigators, Madel, has done something like this before. In 2010 and 2011, he led the investigation into political kickbacks at the Fiesta Bowl, in Phoenix. That review, which culminated in a 276-page public report, is generally considered an example of best practices.
"It is recognized as a model for conducting impartial investigations," Halunen says. "We've agreed that that model would be a viable model to use, so we are hopeful that that will allow the investigation to move forward with certain protocols in place, which give us confidence that it will be balanced and it will be impartial."
Since Kluwe broke his allegations last week, they've sparked a lot of chatter, and even some backlash.
"There's been a lot of spin out there as far as what my client's true motivations are, and what the point of all this is," Halunen says. "I would just like to be clear: My client has one motivation, and that is to do his part in eliminating homophobia in professional sports, including at the Minnesota Vikings and in the NFL."
"Professional sports organizations have gotten away with it for so long that it's not only tolerated, it's condoned," Halunen continues. "My client says, not anymore."
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