Transportation official who was criticized in audit resigns

July 02, 2005|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

Marsha J. Kaiser, a high-ranking state Transportation Department manager who was criticized in an audit for overseeing projects given to her husband's company, has resigned from her state position, officials announced yesterday.

State Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan gave no reason for Kaiser's departure after seven years as director of planning and capital programs.

"The impact Marsha has had on transportation in Maryland can be felt in every corner of the state. Marsha is a leader and a problem-solver," Flanagan said in a statement.

Transportation officials did not return calls for comment last night. Kaiser could not be reached for her response.

A May audit determined that a top transportation official inappropriately oversaw $3.3 million in poorly documented consulting work done by a company that employs the official's husband.

The audit did not name the official, but a source familiar with the investigation said it was Kaiser.

State records show that Kaiser's husband, Robert, works for Pittsburgh-based Michael Baker Jr. Inc., which received 17 state transportation planning contracts from 1999 to 2004.

The May audit was prompted by a tip to a state fraud hot line. Bruce A. Meyers, a manager in the state Office of Legislative Audits, wrote that the company billings "contained little detail about the specific charges billed and were not adequately supported." The company also received work for which it was not the low bidder.

State ethics laws, Meyers noted, do not allow state employees to participate in transactions if their spouse "has an interest in the matter."

Meyers referred his findings to state law enforcement authorities, but the status of any investigation could not be determined last night.

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