"We have to wake the watchdog up": Why Rob Sand's running for state auditor

The state auditor of Iowa is not a “sexy office,” former Assistant Attorney General Rob Sand told me earlier this fall. “But it’s a huge opportunity for public service, because I think that the way that it’s run right now, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit for improvement.”

Sand kicked off his candidacy this morning with a website and Facebook page. He’s been tweeting for some time at @RobSandIA. His opening video is here. At the end of this post I’ve enclosed Sand’s campaign committee, including activists and elected officials from many parts of the state as well as Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and former Attorney General Bonnie Campbell.

Sand discussed with Bleeding Heartland how he would approach the job and why he is running against Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman, a certified public accountant who has served as state auditor since 2013. Although this office is not the obvious choice for an attorney, Sand considers his experience prosecuting white-collar crime “my biggest qualification” and a key reason he could improve on Mosiman’s work. Moreover, he’s not afraid to call out a “historically irresponsible” state budget.

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If all Iowa candidates had to win under rules Republicans forced on unions

“There’s not one Republican in this state that could win an election under the rules they gave us,” asserted AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan after the first round of public union recertification elections ended this week.

He was only slightly exaggerating.

A review of the last two general election results shows that Iowa’s capitol would be mostly devoid of office-holders if candidates for statewide and legislative races needed a majority vote among all their constituents–rather than a plurality among those who cast ballots–to be declared winners.

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State treasurer questions legality of planned budget fix

Governor Kim Reynolds’ plan to transfer $13 million from the Iowa Economic Emergency Fund to balance the fiscal year 2017 budget “would not be in compliance with Iowa law,” according to a letter State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald sent to the governor today.

If his interpretation is correct, then a special legislative session will be required to cover the year-end shortfall. Reynolds’ staff dismissed and mocked Fitzgerald’s concerns.

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Lawsuit over Iowa Senate Republican harassment will be settled

Attorneys for the state and a former Iowa Senate Republican staffer have agreed to settle a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit, William Petroski reported for the Des Moines Register today. In July, a Polk County jury awarded Kirsten Anderson $1.4 million for past emotional distress and $795,000 for future emotional distress, after hearing testimony about a hostile workplace environment and alleged discrimination and retaliation within the Senate GOP caucus.

Under the settlement, Anderson will receive $1.045 million, and the state will pay an additional $705,000 for her attorneys’ fees.

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Iowa budget disaster likely to force special legislative session

Governor Kim Reynolds appears unlikely to be able to balance Iowa’s budget for the fiscal year that just ended without calling a special legislative session. The last time Iowa lawmakers needed to come back after adjournment to fix the budget was in 2002, when the country was in a recession that had begun the previous year.

This year’s huge revenue shortfalls are happening during a time of economic expansion, the result of overly optimistic planning and business tax breaks that turned out to be much more costly than officials predicted.

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