Two contenders race for control of the state auditor’s office

Rob Sand and Mary Mosiman strive to be Iowa’s next state auditor amid heavy cash flow.


Nick Rohlman

Democratic candidate for Iowa Auditor of State Rob Sand speaks during the Johnson County Democratic Party Fall Barbecue at the Johnson County Fairgrounds on Sunday Oct. 14, 2018.

Julia DiGiacomo, Politics Reporter

The race to become Iowa’s next “taxpayers’ watchdog” has heated up over the last several months.

The competition between Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman and Democrat Rob Sand has resulted in one of the most expensive Iowa auditor races in recent years.

In a race that in past years tends to fly under the voter radar, Sand set fundraising records by bringing in more than $200,000 in the first seven weeks of his campaign. In the last three months, he has raised $846,866. In total, he’s raised $1.35 million since launching his campaign in November 2017.

Mosiman raised considerably less, with $62,780 in campaign contributions from July 15 to Oct. 14, according to campaign-disclosure reports. However, she remains the incumbent in a position that has stayed steadily Republican for years. In all, she has raised $215,922 since her election in 2014.

In comparison, Mosiman raised $167,000 for her 2014 campaign.

The state auditor, elected every four years,  provides oversight of and accountability for public funds used by the state.

Robert “Kinney” Poynter, the executive director of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers, stressed the importance of state auditors’ offices because of their role in managing taxpayers’ funds

“I believe that the role of state auditor is one of the most important functions in state government and government in general,” he said. “I say that because the state auditor really serves as the independent watchdog of the taxpayers’ funds. In a democratic form of government, this trust is very important.”

Former Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Mosiman in 2013 to the office to fill a vacancy. In 2014, she became the first female elected to state auditor in Iowa, leading her opponent by 13 percentage points.

Mosiman, 56, has touted her qualifications as the only certified public accountant in the race as a central component of her campaign.

“I’m eager to keep the State Auditor’s Office working on behalf of the people of Iowa as the only CPA running for the position,” she said. “If you want the State Auditor’s Office to audit, the elected state auditor must be a CPA in order to fully perform the duties of the office.”

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She said if a non-CPA state auditor is elected, the State Auditor’s Office would lose its status as a CPA firm, which she said could cause some auditing work to be outsourced to a private CPA firm, citing an administrative rule 193A.1.1. Her opponent, Sand, argues that the claim is not true and that the Auditor’s Office should hire more attorneys and prosecutors to bring in more legal expertise.

One of her goals for re-election is to continue a fraud-reduction program that began in January, which involves communicating with local officials on tactics to recognize and curtail tax fraud.

Sand, 36, is an attorney who has served as assistant state attorney general under current Attorney General Tom Miller since graduating from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2010. His career has focused on public-corruption cases, in which, he said, he worked very closely with the Iowa’s auditor throughout the investigations. Most recently, he worked on a case that uncovered seven fixed lottery tickets.

A Cedar Falls sales manager, Fred Perryman, is also running for state auditor under the banner of the Iowa Libertarian Party.

Sand said his work in the Attorney General’s Office is the fundamental reason he’s running.

“No one has handled more [public-corruption] cases than I have over the last decade,” Sand said while speaking to supporters in Iowa City on Sept. 26. “Because I’ve worked on so many of them, I know how much room there is for improvement.”