Audit suggests MN Legislature clarify state travel for Governor

By KBJR News 1

Audit suggests MN Legislature clarify state travel for Governor

January 16, 2014 Updated Jan 16, 2014 at 6:45 PM CST

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A new report suggests the Minnesota Legislature should clarify whether it's lawful for the Governor to use a state airplane to attend political events.

The Minnesota State Auditor's report, filed Thursday, said on at least three occasions, the Governor used a MnDOT airplane to travel to and from political events in the state in 2012.

It also states on one trip to Bemidji and International Falls a campaign staffer accompanied the Governor.

The Governor's Chief of Staff, Tina Smith said in all three instances political and official activities occurred in the same area and to have used both state and private planes would have been "inefficient."

Smith also admits having a DFL campaign staffer accompany the Governor on the flight to International Falls, was an "error and won't happen again."

The flight expenses for political events, about $3,400 for all three trips, were reimbursed by the Governor's campaign committee in December, according to Smith.

“Our policy thus called for the Governor's political committee to fully reimburse the state for any air travel costs incurred by adding political activities to travel for state business. In no circumstances do taxpayers bear any costs for a state plane used for the Governor's political travel," Smith said.

Between January 3, 2011, through June 30, 2013, Governor Dayton used a state airplane for 55 trips.

The audit recommends that Governor Dayton encourage his office staff and campaign staff to schedule his travel in ways that strictly limit the use of a state airplane to attend political events. In addition, neither MnDOT nor the Governor's Office should allow campaign officials or staff to travel on a state airplane.

The report was in response to past complaints made by the Minnesota Jobs Coalition.

Written by Kevin Jacobsen
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