More fallout from film tax-credit scandal

Governor Chet Culver took more steps on Monday to deal with the scandal surrounding Iowa’s tax credits for the movie industry:

Culver fired Iowa Film Office manager Tom Wheeler, who was in charge of coordinating tax-credit deals with moviemakers, who flocked to Iowa during the past year.

Vince Lintz, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, which oversaw the film office, turned in his resignation. […]

On Monday, Culver asked state Auditor David Vaudt, Iowa Department of Revenue director Mark Schuling and Attorney General Tom Miller to assist in reviewing the program.

Culver said he was “very troubled” by reports of abuses in the tax credit program, which reportedly included purchase of two luxury vehicles by unidentified movie executives, and lax oversight.

“I’ve made it very clear from the very beginning that we would like to continue the program,” Culver told The Des Moines Register. “But not until we have all of the controls in place, the oversight, the due diligence that is necessary to run any program involving taxpayer money.”

Surely we’ll be hearing a lot more about this mess, which already prompted the Department of Economic Development director’s resignation last Friday.

Naturally, Republican legislative leaders are blaming the “governor’s lack of oversight and failure to properly manage the film tax credit” for the problems. Several people I’ve spoken with share Bleeding Heartland user American007’s view that this scandal is going to become a major headache for Culver, like wrongdoing at the Central Iowa Employment Training Consortium was used to attack Governor Tom Vilsack and other Democrats a few years ago.

It’s not clear to me how Culver could have or should have micromanaged the film tax credit program. Upon learning of problems, he has acted promptly and appropriately. If the governor were resisting change to this program, protecting the officials who screwed up, or blocking an investigation, that would be a different story.

In addition, as you can see from this CIETC scandal timeline, the CIETC abuses became public knowledge during the spring of 2006. The scandal didn’t stop Iowa Democrats from making big gains that November. Mike Mauro was elected secretary of state that year, even though he shared a surname with one of the CIETC board members (I remember some fretting over that at the time).

Culver should brace himself for more bad news about the film tax credits when investigators have completed their reviews, but I don’t see this issue being salient with voters more than a year from now.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

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