State auditor to probe out-of-state welfare use

Auditor James Nobles
Legislative Auditor James Nobles.
MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire

Minnesota's legislative auditor says he will take a hard look at electronic state welfare cards being used in other states.

James Nobles says figures showing more than $10 million in out-of-state purchases last year should be investigated, even though it's legal to use the cards in other states.

Out-of-state welfare spending; Click for more
This map, prepared by Republican Rep. Marty Seifert's office, shows the amount of money spent in each state by Minnesota welfare recipients. Such spending is legal.
Data compiled by Rep. Marty Seifert

Nobles says the audit will begin in September as part of a larger review of state programs.

"Any time there are these transactions that are of a significant dollar amount outside the state of Minnesota, they're a flag that should draw some attention both at the department and by the outside audit organization, which would be us," Nobles said.

Nobles says he may probe further if those audits find problems or inadequate oversight of the purchases.

Data from House Republicans last week showed that the cards were used everywhere from Hawaii to Maine.

Nobles says he hopes a preliminary assessment will be ready in time for the 2009 legislative session.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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