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Corruption Chronicles

Homeland Security Dept. Hires Fired State Official


A Minnesota emergency manager fired for bilking taxpayers out of thousands of dollars and taking an unauthorized, taxpayer-financed trip during the aftermath of last year’s disastrous bridge collapse has been hired by the federal government agency in charge of protecting the nation’s transportation systems.

Just six months after the high-ranking Minnesota official, Sonia Pitt, got fired from her state job the Department of Homeland Security hired her as a security specialist with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in Arlington Virginia. The 50,000-employee agency was created after the 2001 terrorist attacks to keep the country’s transportation systems safe.

Incredibly, this important Homeland Security agency hired this public official with a documented history of wrongdoing. Pitt got fired as director of Homeland Security for the Minnesota Department of Transportation for unprofessional conduct, travel improprieties and misuse of state resources. After the tragic Interstate 35W bridge collapse last August, Pitt was missing in action for nearly two weeks as emergency officials struggled to recover the bodies of more than a dozen people.

A state legislative auditor’s report concluded that over a two-year period Pitt was “belligerent” and took advantage of an office with limited and shifting oversight in order to bilk taxpayers out of thousands of dollars. It also said that she misused taxpayer resources and engaged in conduct unbecoming of a state employee. The auditor recommended that the state attorney general pursue criminal charges and nearly $30,000 from Pitt for inappropriate expenses and back pay.

Among the investigation’s findings is that Pitt racked up $3,048 worth of personal calls on her state-issued cell phone, nearly $2,000 in unsupported reimbursements, thousands more in air fare, meals and hotels and nearly $15,000 in personal hours reported as worked.

Given these facts, it’s outrageous that the government hired this disgraced official.


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