Iowa House sends “most pro-corruption bill in Iowa History” to Governor’s desk

State Auditor Rob Sand, the only Democrat elected to a constitutional office in Iowa, said Senate File 478 could put billions in federal funding at risk if passed.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a watch party for Iowa Republicans on Election Day at the Hilton Downtown in Des Moines on Nov. 8, 2022.

Liam Halawith, Politics Editor

Under a bill passed by the Iowa House, State Auditor Rob Sand would be limited in his oversight and abilities to review documents.

Senate File 478, passed a 55-41 vote in the Iowa House on Thursday afternoon — with five Republicans joining all Democrats to oppose the bill. Sand is the only elected constitutional office held by a Democrat in the state.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, in February. It would require agencies’ cooperation in the fact-finding phase of audits.

It would hamper the state auditors’ ability to form an independent financial opinion on the financial state of an entity. This limitation of the office would put billions in federal funding in jeopardy for public entities in the state.

According to a fiscal note by the Legislative Services Agency, a non-partisan agency in the Iowa Legislature that examines the impact of legislation, the state could jeopardize $12 billion in funding by limiting the scope of audits.

Sand, the only Democrat elected to a constitutional office in Iowa, held a news conference shortly after the bill passed on Thursday afternoon.

During the conference, he said the bill would derail the checks and balances placed in the Iowa constitution. This allows the governor to deny the auditor’s office from seeing politically inconvenient information, Sand said.

“The entire idea behind checks and balances enshrined in our constitution is that independent bodies of government can check abuses of power by other bodies of government,” Sand said.

The bill would implement an arbitration process for disputes between government agencies. Sand argues that this portion takes away the office’s subpoena power and bars them from pursuing action in the courts further limiting their power.

Rep. Michael Bergan, R-Decorah, said that the bill doesn’t do that and instead, it ensures the auditor’s office complies with generally accepted auditing standards.

“Granted, the initial bill that came to the House from the Senate, I think it was appropriately raised by the legislative service agency fiscal note and several letters from other state auditors and national level folks commented on [it’s impact on federal funds],” Bergan said.

Other state auditors and the president of the National State Auditor’s Association wrote in a letter to the Iowa Legislature that SF 478 is dangerous and could result in the abuse of taxpayer dollars.