A failure to communicate

A special investigation by the State Auditor’s office asserted on June 3 that Governor Kim Reynolds violated Iowa law by using $152,585 in federal COVID-19 relief funds to purchase “online and televised ads containing the Governor’s voice, image, and name.”

Less than 30 minutes after the auditor’s report was published, Reynolds responded in a news release that the law “clearly allows” such use of public money in the context of a public health disaster emergency.

A few hours later, State Auditor Rob Sand defended his conclusions in a new written statement.

My non-lawyer’s reading of the relevant statutes aligns with the governor’s interpretation. But while legal points could be argued, one indisputable fact is that all parties involved should have discussed these findings prior to the report’s publication, instead of duking it out in news releases today.

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Iowa board approves formal probe of Heritage Action lobbying

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board voted on May 26 to authorize a formal staff investigation of possible undisclosed lobbying of Governor Kim Reynolds’ office by the conservative group Heritage Action for America.

The board’s executive director and legal counsel Mike Marshall had been informally investigating the matter after Mother Jones published video of Heritage Action’s executive director bragging about helping to write voter suppression laws in Iowa and other states. Jessica Anderson told donors at a private meeting in April that her group had “worked quietly” with Iowa lawmakers to help draft and support a new election bill, getting it passed with “little fanfare.” But the Washington, DC based organization, which is affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, hadn’t registered a position on the bill or filed reports required of those who lobby state government.

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