Both sides sound confident, and no one sees much room for compromise. Aaron Dorfman, CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a watchdog group that has been critical of the management structure and pay practices at the Otto Bremer Trust, says it’s a tough call.
“It may be better for the trust and its grant-making responsibilities to sell,” Dorfman said. “But you have to balance that with the value of the bank to local communities and the consequences of potentially losing that through a sale.
“There are strong arguments on both sides,” he said.
Ellison, the attorney general, potentially has the power to halt a sale in the public interest. He also could allow it, but with conditions, such as removal of the trustees or compensation limits. That could test the trustees’ resolve.
“He could say, ‘If this is truly about the trust, then step down or accept lower pay,’ ” Dorfman said.