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Minnesota Seeks Share of Wellstone Payout

December 4, 2003

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) _ The state of Minnesota has asked a court to grant it part of a $25 million insurance settlement paid to heirs of people who died in a plane crash with Sen. Paul Wellstone last year.

The state says it is owed at least $1 million to repay worker’s compensation benefits given to the families of four campaign workers. The state paid the money because the Wellstone campaign had no worker’s compensation insurance.

Heirs of the other four victims of the Oct. 25, 2002, crash near Eveleth were not eligible for benefits. The senator and his wife, Sheila, were not campaign committee employees, and the pilots were covered through their charter aviation company.

``We are not looking to make a penny here. We are trying to make the state whole. It’s taxpayers’ money,″ said state Labor and Industry Commissioner Scott Brener.

Judge James Florey, who sealed court records in the case in November, said he expects to rule in the next few months.

The campaign committee agreed in January to turn over an estimated $400,000 and paid a fine of nearly $3,400 for not carrying the workers’ compensation insurance.

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