Exclusive: Iowa governor used CARES Act funds to pay staff salaries

Governor Kim Reynolds directed that nearly $450,000 in federal funding the state of Iowa received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act be used to cover salaries and benefits for staff working in her office.

According to documents Bleeding Heartland obtained from the Iowa Department of Management through public records requests, the funds will cover more than 60 percent of the compensation for 21 employees from March 14 through June 30, 2020.

Reynolds has not disclosed that she allocated funds for that purpose, and reports produced by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency have not mentioned any CARES Act funding received by the governor’s office. Nor do any such disbursements appear on a database showing thousands of state government expenditures under the CARES Act.

The governor’s communications director Pat Garrett did not respond to four requests for comment over a two-week period.

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Why did these House Republicans reject an easy win for Iowa taxpayers?

State Auditor Rob Sand had “great news” to share with members of the Iowa House and Senate Appropriations Committees in May. Federal officials had agreed not to demand repayment for alleged overbilling, provided that Iowa changed its billing practices for future audits. The savings to the state would amount to tens of thousands of dollars for each fiscal year.

Documents Bleeding Heartland obtained through a public records request confirm that key Reynolds administration officials were on board with the reform plan, and Iowa Senate appropriators took it up in June as the legislature was completing its work.

The records also show that State Representatives Gary Mohr and John Landon refused to move the fix through the Iowa House.

What they don’t explain is why.

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Senator Rozenboom's conflict of interest on Ag Gag couldn't be clearer

Emma Schmit of Food & Water Action and Adam Mason of Iowa CCI Action co-authored this post. Bleeding Heartland covered this year’s new “Ag Gag” law here. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowans across party lines value clean water and air, vibrant rural communities, independent family farms and safe, affordable food. That’s why at Iowa CCI Action and Food & Water Action we organize for a better system of agriculture. Iowans also value transparency and accountability from our elected officials — We are driven by these core values. Our elected officials should be too.

But that’s not always the case. Some of Iowa’s elected officials fail to represent the interests of their constituents.

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We live here, too: Dirt road Democrats in the arena

Former Republican C.J. Petersen on the values and issues that drove him to run for the Iowa Senate and become the new chair of the Carroll County Democrats. -promoted by Laura Belin

In the fall of 2010, I knocked on the door of a 70-year-old woman in rural Grundy Center, Iowa. I was there on a mission: get Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds elected governor and lieutenant governor of Iowa.

The woman was kind, and we discussed the issues of the day–jobs, health care, and her feeling that our state and nation were on the wrong track. “Trust me,” I told her. “Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds are ready to lead Iowa’s comeback.”

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Iowa Senate district 20: Brad Zaun knows he's in trouble

Brad Zaun’s fifth campaign for the state legislature will be his toughest yet.

Like affluent suburban areas around the country, Iowa Senate district 20 has been trending away from Republicans. Democrats in the northwest suburbs of Des Moines did well in the 2019 local elections and more recently surpassed the GOP in voter registrations.

Zaun has adapted to the new environment with messaging that doesn’t mention his party affiliation, his votes for many controversial laws, his numerous attempts to ban abortion, or his early support for Donald Trump’s candidacy.

On the contrary, he is campaigning as an “independent voice” and leader on improving education and mental health services.

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No Justice No Peace: Elections, actions, and activism

Rob Johnson, Al Womble, and Eddie Mauro of the New Frontier Fund jointly authored this commentary. The No Justice No Peace PAC is online at www.njnppac.com. -promoted by Laura Belin

History is a curious thing. Our understanding of our past changes with time – moving through phases where our perception shifts, evolves and deepens. This examination of our history is constant, and it happens in the public sphere through discussions via social media, the news, commentary, and politics.

We are in the midst of a significant reorganization and shift in how we see, hear, and experience the history of race in America. It’s colliding with a time when Americans fundamentally re-evaluate how we relate to our institutions of government, our neighbors, and our local communities.

This confrontation is messy. It’s fraught with conflict. And it’s necessary.

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