MnDOT Payment to Commissioner’s Company Doesn’t Pass “the Smell Test”

MnDOT employee wanted payment that “doesn’t pass the smell test” “buried forever” 


February 12, 2013 – MnDOT Transit Office employee Shaun Morrell emails Jefferson Lines CEO Steven Woelfel about possible reimbursements related to contracts 90626 and 95127. 

February 18, 2013 – Jefferson Lines CEO Steven Woelfel sends MnDOT a draft contract that seeks $63,942 in reimbursements from the State Agency for bus improvements the company made between Jan. 1, 2007 and June 30, 2011.  

February 20-25 2013 – MnDOT employees debate how much money they believe Jefferson Lines is owed.

March 6, 2013 – Hlivka sends an email raising initial questions about the recipient stating “look who the company is,”  and stating “I don’t see how Audit can say this is OK.” 

March 8, 2013 – Morrell emails MnDOT audit employees seeking approval for retroactive reimbursements.

March 8, 2013 – MnDOT employee tells Morrell that MnDOT “did everything correctly,” reiterates point that Jefferson Lines is seeking reimbursement for expenses incurred outside terms of contract.

March 8, 2013 – MnDOT audit director tells Morrell that the request by Jefferson Lines doesn’t pass the “smell test,” says Morrell put MnDOT “in an uncomfortable situation.” Also says that Jefferson Lines is seeking reimbursements for costs “INCURRED AFTER THE CONTRACT HAD ENDED.” 

March 8, 2013 – MnDOT auditor alerts three of the agency directors of the request, advises that “this does not look good.” 

March 8, 2013 – Referencing “side conversations,” Morrell abruptly cancels meeting to discuss reimbursing Jefferson Lines “until further notice.”

March 14, 2013 – Morrell forwards email referencing concern from audit office. Morrell also references a meeting to discuss “larger implications of working under Comm. Zelle”.

March 27, 2013 – Audit employee questions why repayment “is being pushed so quickly,” says there is “something here that audit doesn’t know about.”  

March 28, 2013 – Audit Director forwards along Hilvka’s email after deleting his warning, signs off on payment despite prior misgivings.

March 29, 2013 – Morrell writes email saying he wants this issue“buried forever.”  

April 9, 2013 – MnDOT executes contract #03141 with Jefferson Lines.