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Mines president denies role in unlawful lobbying; Wilson named in inspector general report

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RAPID CITY, South Dakota — South Dakota School of Mines and Technology President Heather Wilson has said she was not involved in any unlawful attempts to lobby federal officials on behalf of one of the nation's premier federal laboratories.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General said in a report earlier this month that managers at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico improperly used taxpayer money to influence members of Congress and other officials in an effort to extend the lab's $2.4 billion management contract.

The report includes recommendations, and Sandia officials have said they will cooperate with the inspector general.

The inspector general determined that the lab formed a team and worked with consultants beginning in 2009 to develop a plan for securing a contract extension without having to go through a competitive process — a violation of federal codes as well as provisions in the contract itself.

Wilson, a former New Mexico congresswoman who ran a consulting company, is named in the report. National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Frank Klotz said in response to the report that Sandia had reimbursed the agency more than $226,000 for fees paid to Wilson's company.

Wilson, in response to the report, denied being a lobbyist for Sandia and said she did not contact any federal officials or members of Congress regarding the lab's contract extension. She also said the inspector general did not contact her as part of its latest review.

Wilson was hired in April 2013 to lead the School of Mines in Rapid City.

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