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GOP senator has questions for Dayton about airplane, attorney

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota governor, Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota legislature, Minnesota state senators, Democrats, Republicans Updated: January 21, 2014 - 7:02 PM

A Republican state senator on Tuesday said he believes DFL Gov. Mark Dayton purposely hid information about two issues highlighted in a Minnesota Legislative Auditor report last week.

Sen. Dave Osmek, R-Mound, said there are unanswered questions about the 2012 trip Dayton took on a state airplane with a campaign staffer and about the governor's office $77,000 payment for legal services in the wake of the 2011 shutdown.

"Someone needs to be held accountable," Osmek said. He accused Dayton and his office of purposely hiding the campaign staffer's presence on the flight and the cost of the legal services in a "zeal for secrecy."

Dayton had previously said taking the campaign staffer on the state plane in that one instance was a mistake and that his campaign reimbursed the state for her portion of the flight as well as the portion of three of his 2012 flights in which he made campaign-related stops.

He and his staff also said that he had initially contracted with attorney David Lillehaug just before the 2011 state government shutdown for legal counsel on a pro bono basis. For various reasons, during the shutdown Lillehaug's role expanded and so after it was over the state paid his firm $77,000. Until last week, there was no public disclosure of the payment.

Before Osmek's news conference, Dayton was dismissive of the freshman senator's concerns.

"We've been through this before, last week. Every time some obscure legislator wants to get some attention or get some credit with his or her political party we are going to go through this stuff again and again and again," Dayton said.

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