Dayton defends MN Lottery after director abruptly resigns

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Gov. Mark Dayton defended the integrity of the Minnesota Lottery after the abrupt resignation of Director Ed Van Petten on Friday.

Van Petten left after a Star Tribune investigation found he was reimbursed more than $7,000 for times he and his staff stayed in his own personal timeshares as they attended conferences in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and New Orleans.

The newspaper says this violates state policy forbidding employees from being refunded state cash for staying in properties they own themselves, or are owned by relatives and friends.

He defended himself to the newspaper on Thursday, saying he didn't view it as personally-owned property. He said he was reimbursed less than his timeshare fees of $311-a-night cost him. However, the lottery told the newspaper on Friday he had stepped down from his role.

Speaking to the media that afternoon, Dayton said he is "very concerned" about the situation and said he "thought the circumstances warranted" Van Petten's resignation, according to the Pioneer Press's Rachel Stassen-Berger.

But he defended the lottery's record, saying the state has "extremely high standards of governance," and according to MPR's Tim Pugmire said Van Petten's resignation is not "symptomatic of bigger problems."

He added he would support the state's legislative auditor looking into practices at the state lottery.

He was also critical of the media in attendance, admonishing reporters for asking about Van Petten's resignation when he was trying to talk about the state's latest employment figures that showed unemployment had dropped to 3.5 percent.

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