While Congress was busy sending journalists scurrying to the thesaurus to find words to replace “outrage,” a Minnesota House committee was tightening a rather glaring loophole: it’s not illegal to misuse taxpayer money (insert the predictable joke here).
According to the Legislature’s Session Daily:
Following a rash of recent scandals involving fraud and financial mismanagement at state agencies, Winkler wondered why the state employees involved were being fired but not prosecuted. It turns out that knowingly misappropriating state money is not actually a crime.
Under Rep. Ryan Winkler’s bill, anyone who intentionally misuses state funds could be charged with a gross misdemeanor.
The bill was inspired by the case of Sonia Pitt, the former director of homeland security planning for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, who was AWOL when the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, who charged over $14,000 in personal travel expenses to the state, and caused the state to pay over $11,000 for her use of cellphones, hotels, airfare, and unnecessary business travel, according to an investigation by the Office of the Legislative Auditor.