Senator asks new auditor to investigate Secretary of State's use of federal funds

State Senator Tom Courtney has asked newly appointed Iowa State Auditor Mary Mosiman to conduct “a special audit of the use of HAVA (Help America Vote Act) funds by Secretary of State Matt Schultz.” Courtney has been a leading critic of Schultz’s policies to combat alleged voter fraud. He previously asked State Auditor David Vaudt and the federal Office of Inspector General to look into Schultz’s use of HAVA funds to pay for criminal investigations. Courtney points out that federal funding is intended for “educating voters concerning voting procedures, voting rights and voting technology.”

An Iowa Senate press release containing background on Courtney’s request is after the jump, along with the full text of Courtney’s letter to Mosiman. She would presumably have to assign a different staff member of the Auditor’s office to conduct any inquiry, since she’s worked for Schultz for more than two years, running the Secretary of State’s Office elections division. Mosiman has publicly defended Schultz’s policies on alleged voter fraud, including photo ID requirements that most Iowa county auditors oppose.

The criminal investigations have so far uncovered a few allegedly improper voter registrations by ex-felons and a few instances of non-citizens allegedly registering to vote or casting ballots in local or state elections. To my knowledge, those charges have not led to any convictions yet. Three cases of alleged wrongful voting by non-citizens were dropped in March because the investigating DCI agent was called up for active military duty.

Iowa Senate press release, May 13:

State Senator: New State Auditor should investigate Secretary of State’s use of federal funds

Auditor should step in because federal agency has turned into ‘toothless tiger’

DES MOINES – A State Senator today formally requested that Iowa’s new State Auditor conduct a thorough audit of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s misuse of federal funding for his high-profile voter purge campaign.

In a letter sent this morning to newly appointed State Auditor Mary Mosiman, State Senator Tom Courtney of Burlington stated that federal law requires Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds to be used only “for educating voters concerning voting procedures, voting rights and voting technology.”  (LETTER ATTACHED)

“Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is currently using HAVA funds on the unallowable expense of hiring a law enforcement officer to conduct criminal investigations of Iowans,” Courtney wrote in his letter.

There is no evidence that Schultz has requested that the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) amend Iowa’s state plan to use the HAVA funds to pay the salary and operational costs of a criminal investigator. In addition, the Secretary of State has not convened a meeting of the State of Iowa HAVA Advisory Committee since he took office in January 2011.

Last September, Senator Courtney asked then State Auditor David Vaudt and federal Office of Inspector General in the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to investigate Schultz’s use of HAVA funds.

Vaudt responded by saying that he was seeking guidance from the federal Office of Inspector General. “I wanted to let you know that we are pursuing it, but we must wait on some guidance from the Inspector General to ensure we can perform the audit as efficiently as possible,” Vaudt wrote in a letter to Courtney.

Last month, the Inspector General’s office informed Courtney that they were unable to conduct a thorough investigation at this time because of budget cuts and because of political gridlock in Washington, D.C.

In Courtney’s letter today to Auditor Mosiman, he wrote:

“It is important that your office takes a lead role in this matter because we were recently informed that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency that usually oversees the use of HAVA funds, is a toothless tiger.  Budget cuts have left the agency incapable of conducting an investigation.  In additional, the U.S. Senate has failed to confirm appointees to the Commission. As a result, there are four vacancies on the four-member Commission.”

Previously, the State Auditor’s office diligently reviewed the use of HAVA funds by the Secretary of State.   In fact, a June 30, 2007, audit of the Secretary of State’s use of HAVA funds found that “Section 101 of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 states that funds may be used for educating voters concerning voting procedures, voting rights and voting technology.”

Letter from State Senator Tom Courtney:

May 13, 2013

Dear Ms. Mosiman:

Congratulations on your appointment as Iowa’s new State Auditor.

I am writing to renew my request for a special audit of the use of HAVA (Help America Vote Act) funds by Secretary of State Matt Schultz.

Your office must take the lead role in this matter because we were recently informed that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency that usually oversees the use of HAVA funds, is a toothless tiger. Budget cuts have left the agency incapable of conducting an investigation. In addition, the U.S. Senate has failed to confirm appointees to the Commission. As a result, there are four vacancies on the four-member Commission.

Previously, the State Auditor’s office diligently reviewed the use of HAVA funds by the Secretary of State. In fact, a June 30, 2007, audit of the Secretary of State’s use of HAVA funds found that “Section 101 of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 states that funds may be used for educating voters concerning voting procedures, voting rights and voting technology.”

As you know, Secretary of State Matt Schultz has used HAVA funds to pay the salary and operational costs for an Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation Agent to do a “criminal investigation” of registered voters since August 6, 2012.

Neither the State of Iowa’s “Help America Vote Act State Plan” adopted on July 17, 2003, nor amendments submitted on June 9, 2005, and September 10, 2008, includes the use of HAVA funds to pay the salary and operational costs of a criminal investigator to search for voter fraud.

There is no evidence that the Secretary of State has requested through the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to amend Iowa’s state plan to use the HAVA funds to pay the salary and operational costs of a criminal investigator.

Based on this information, I am renewing my request for your office to conduct a thorough audit into the questionable uses of HAVA funding by the Iowa Secretary of State.

I would appreciate hearing from your office by May 31 on how you intend to proceed with this matter.

Sincerely,

  • Courtney

    Senator Courtney knows she is not going to do this.  I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask or at least see whether she answers this with a barb of her own.  

    • I assume he was planning to ask

      the new auditor (whoever it was) after getting no results from Vaudt during the past six months. Presumably it was just a coincidence that Branstad appointed Schultz’s former subordinate.

  • Sen. Mark Segebart (R)

    at a legislative forum Saturday in Carroll:

    Segebart said he is supporting a Senate GOP plan that would require proof of identification for voters at precincts on Election Day. “Voter fraud in Iowa is a growing concern,” Segebart said.

    I resisted an urge to laugh when he said that.

    • none of the arrests

      made following Schultz’s criminal investigations have involved crimes that could have been prevented by photo ID requirements. All of the people accused of wrongfully registering to vote, either non-citizens or felons, registered while renewing their driver’s licenses (a photo ID that they would be able to show on election day). It’s just a voter suppression strategy.

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