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Senate denies reimbursing attorney fees following audit

February 19, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s Senate has defeated a bill that would have reimbursed several officials who hired attorneys after they were caught up in criminal investigations resulting from 2019 state audits.

The reimbursements would have only applied if a criminal probe did not result in a conviction.

The legislation would have reimbursed former Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer and former Commerce Senior Manager Holly Holt, as well as three North Dakota State College of Science leaders, including President John Richman.

The cost of reimbursement was about $48,000, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

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The five officials submitted claims for reimbursement after criminal probes launched in the wake of critical audit findings that the state auditor forwarded for investigation. No criminal charges resulted.

State Risk Management Division officials denied the claims.

Some state lawmakers have criticized State Auditor Josh Gallion for how he handled the audit findings. Gallion has said he had an obligation to advance the audit findings for investigation.