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During Buttigieg’s tenure as mayor, South Bend had transportation scandal

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Pete Buttigieg, who President-elect Joe Biden nominated as Transportation secretary, dealt with a public transportation scandal while he was the mayor of South Bend, Ind. 

Former South Bend Public Transportation (Transpo) Corporation CEO David Cangany was fired in 2018 , accused of being abusive to his staff and going on personal shopping sprees with the agency's credit card, the South Bend Tribune reported. 

"These charges including Apple Store purchases, unauthorized travel, shoe purchases, and other charges of a personal nature totaling $2,597.09," a special investigation report revealed. 

He eventually reimbursed the organization in October 2018. 

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Cangany also was accused of creating a toxic work environment at Transpo in the five years that he was CEO, resulting in seven Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints against him, the Tribune reported. 

Cangany declined to comment when contacted Saturday evening. 

According to the special investigation report, proper controls were not in place at Transpo to catch such complaints and misdeeds. 

"The Corporation had not established a proper system of internal control to prevent, or detect and correct, errors over financial reporting. Various employees were able to make charges to the Corporation's credit card without consequences," the report said. "Thus, there was no evidence of an oversight, review, or approval process to ensure the financial reporting was accurate."

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As a result of Cangany's dismissal, Transpo put in place changes to prevent these types of problems in the future. 

Buttigieg commended these changes at the time. 

"This case has exposed significant issues with past oversight at Transpo, issues the board has already been addressing since the end of last year," Buttigieg said in a statement to the Tribune. "I support the board in its work to strengthen controls, and have confidence that the new leadership at Transpo will serve riders and taxpayers well."

The former mayor also had a pothole problem. The Tribune reported in 2019 that potholes on South Bend's streets were the worst in "over 10 years." 

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Biden nominated Buttigieg, who was once a leading contender to be the Democratic presidential nominee, to be Transportation secretary earlier this week. 

In making the announcement, Biden credited Buttigieg with bringing "South Bend back from the brink."

"His 'Smart Streets' initiative helped change the fortunes of downtown South Bend — revitalizing the city, redesigning the streets, and bringing in major economic investment," the Biden transition team said. 

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If confirmed, Buttigieg will have a full plate, charged with implementing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects and climate change initiatives. 

"At its best, transportation makes the American dream possible, getting people and goods to where they need to be, directly and indirectly creating good-paying jobs," Buttigieg said this week.

"At its worst, misguided policies and missed opportunities can reinforce racial, economic and environmental injustice, dividing or isolating neighborhoods, undermining government’s basic role to empower everyone to thrive."

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