MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A month after collecting $166,000 in early retirement benefits from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, a veteran staffer is back at work there.

Former Deputy Commissioner Brian Hiti volunteered for retirement as part of a restructuring at the development agency. But the Star Tribune reports his retirement didn’t last long. He was back on the payroll a month later at $41 an hour. The agency says the contract was necessary to fill key duties and ensure a smooth handoff of his responsibilities as a mining adviser.

The newspaper says the contract has brought fresh scrutiny to an agency long criticized for political cronyism. Gov. Tim Walz reprimanded its commissioner in April after former state Rep. Joe Radinovich got a well-paying post without going through the normal hiring process.

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