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Continued: Sept. 15: MnDOT official's travel costs questioned

Cathy Clark, a member of Pitt's office staff, said she has been named acting director of the office. Clark's previous work experience includes a stint as a television news reporter in Duluth.

Since July 2006, Pitt has scheduled 17 out-of-state business trips for herself, including an eight-day training session that was scheduled to start today in Emmitsburg, Md., for "crisis communication during emergency situations."

Including per diem payments, hotel, air fare, registration fees, ground travel and other expenses, all the trips combined cost at least $26,400, documents show.

Pitt flew from Minneapolis to Washington, D.C., on March 2 for a Harvard seminar scheduled to start on March 4 in Cambridge.

The travel authorization form called for a round-trip flight between Minneapolis and Washington, but records show that Pitt added a third leg, taking her from Washington to Boston in time for the start of the program.

For her return to the Twin Cities on March 9, Pitt flew nonstop from Boston. Her travel summary said $163.82 of the $673.82 in total air fare was a "personal expense."

In June, Pitt traveled at state expense to Palm Springs, Calif., for an industry exposition on intelligent transportation systems. The authorization form she filled out in January to gain approval for the trip said she would return to the Twin Cities from Palm Springs.

But a month before she left, she had the state's travel agent revise her trip so that she would fly from Palm Springs to Las Vegas. There was no mention of a Las Vegas trip in the authorization form.

The trip to Palm Springs had started June 3. At 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, Pitt flew to Las Vegas and stayed there until Sunday. For Friday, June 8, she filled out her time sheet to indicate that she had worked for eight hours.

On Sunday, June 10, Pitt flew from Las Vegas to Washington. She had gained approval in May for four days of training in Washington starting June 12. But instead of returning to the Twin Cities on June 16, as stated in the authorization form, she stayed in Washington through June 20.

On her employee expense report for the period of June 10 to June 20, she listed "training" as the reason for being away from the office on each of the 10 days.

tonyK@startribune.com • 612-673-4213 pmac@startribune.com • 612-673-1745

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