The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Former Iowa Athletic Commission Program Planner linked to missing funds

More than $17,000 of uncollected license fees and taxes remain after a former IAC staffer was fired for financial impropriety.
Nick Rohlman
Democratic candidate for State Auditor Rob Sand speaks during the Progress Iowa Corn Feed in Bondurant Iowa on Sunday, September 16, 2018.

An investigation found that a former Iowa Athletic Commission Staffer mishandled over $17,000 in licensing fees and taxes owed to the state, accepted more than $1,700 in illegal gifts, and misplaced a pair of state-purchased Apple Airpod Pros, Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand reported in a news conference on Wednesday. 

The state investigation which covered 2020 through 2022 found that $17,206 in event licensing fees and athletic commission taxes, required to be remitted to the commission by law, were unaccounted for. Dawn Chamberlain, the former Program Planner for the commission was responsible for their collection during this time frame, according to the auditor’s report

Additionally, the auditor’s office found that Chamberlain accepted gifts totaling $1,700, much more than the $3 allowed by state rules, a missing pair of Apple Airpod Pros assigned to Chamberlain, and the use of Chamberlain’s personal Venmo account to pay state required fees to state-contracted officials. 

The Iowa Athletic Commission administers state laws and regulations and collects licensing fees and taxes regarding boxing, wrestling, mixed martial arts, and kickboxing events in the state. 

The commission, currently under the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing, was housed under Iowa Workforce Development until it was moved to DIAL with the passage and enactment of the Governor’s state government reorganization bill

On Nov. 15, 2022, Iowa Workforce Development officials received a phone complaint about Chamberlain. The whistleblower said Chamberlain was “taking money under the table” and not performing her job duties. 

Jesse Dougherty, the spokesperson for Iowa Workforce Development, said IWD was working on more independent controls following the reporting of the investigation, and that the controls will continue under DIAL. 

“We are proud to say the process of detecting fraud worked – beginning with Iowa Workforce Development,” Dougherty wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan. “Procedures and controls have since been improved at the Iowa Athletic Commission (IAC), and we are confident, with confirmation from DIAL, that the improvements will continue under DIAL.” 

In January 2023, following their own internal investigation, Iowa Workforce Development tipped off the Auditor’s office and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office to Chamberlain’s actions. 

According to the Auditor’s office and confirmed by Dougherty, Chamberlain was put on administrative leave on Nov. 16, 2022, and was terminated on Dec. 15, 2022.  

Used Venmo, personal accounts to pay officials

Under state regulations, events are required to have “inspectors” and “deputies” that are required by state law and are paid by event promoters. The state only reimburses travel expenses for the officials. 

The “inspectors” and “deputies” officiate and supervise state laws and regulations for the commission during the event because it is not typical practice for the Program Planner to perform these duties, according to the Auditor’s investigation.

According to the report by the Auditor’s office, Chamberlain deposited a total of $4,325 into her personal bank account, $3,775 of which was meant for event officials. However, only $2,550 was made in Venmo payments. According to the report, Chamberlain told the Auditor’s office that some payments were made in cash to officials. 

Thousands in illegal gifts 

The Auditor’s office also found $1,742 in illegal gifts under Iowa’s gifting rules for state officials. Chamberlain allegedly received airfare, hotels, ringside seats, and cash from companies that had events in the state, according to the Auditor’s report. 

According to Iowa code, officials may not receive a gift totaling more than $3 in value from those directly in contact with the official in their official capacity. 

Auditor recommends internal controls 

State Auditor Rob Sand recommended internal controls and procedures be put in place at the commission to prevent future impropriety at the commission.

Sand recommended that the commission should implement segregation of duties, meaning separating who handles collecting payments and who deposits them, to prevent missing cash and checks. 

Sand also recommended the commission implement better record keeping practices and rules and procedures for fee processes. 

“It’s exactly the kind of thing that undermines trust in our system of self-governance and our ability to make sure that we have reasonable rules and reasonable rules are being followed,” Sand said.

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About the Contributor
Liam Halawith, Senior Politics and News Editor
Liam Halawith is a third-year student at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Political Science. Before his role as Senior Politics and News Editor, Liam was the Politics Editor and a politics reporter for the DI. Outside of the DI Liam has interned at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Southeast Iowa Union. This is his second year working for the DI.