Rob Sand may run for higher office in 2022; Cindy Axne non-committal

Following another devastating election up and down the ballot, Iowa Democrats have begun to speculate about the next political cycle. Governor Kim Reynolds will be up for re-election, and Iowa’s other U.S. Senate seat will be on the ballot.

State Auditor Rob Sand hasn’t ruled out running for governor, Senate, or re-election in 2022, he told viewers of an “ask me anything” Facebook session on December 10. “Any of those three would be possibilities.”

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The long game: Where does winning in rural Iowa begin?

Glenn Hurst: Democrats cannot hope to build their bench if they undervalue down-ballot elected positions and concede those offices to Republicans. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa Democratic Party needs to reconsider its strategy for winning elections in Iowa. Republicans have a stronghold on the governor’s office, the state legislature and the majority of Iowa’s Congressional delegation. They now dominate the Iowa Senate and have long controlled the majority in the House.

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Get ready for an election contest in IA-02

All 24 counties in Iowa’s second Congressional district have recounted their votes, but the race between Democrat Rita Hart and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks is far from over.

Trackers including Pat Rynard of Iowa Starting Line and Tom Barton of the Quad-City Times reached the same conclusion: once all counties submit their new numbers to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, Miller-Meeks will have a six-vote lead out of more than 394,000 ballots cast. Rynard posted vote changes in each county since election day here. The two candidates’ vote share is identical to the one-hundredth of a percent (49.91 percent).

The Miller-Meeks campaign’s lawyer Alan Ostergren declared victory after Clinton County’s recount board finished its work on November 28. The Republican candidate said in a written statement, “While this race is extraordinarily close, I am proud to have won this contest and look forward to being certified as the winner by the state’s Executive Council on Monday.”

Three Republicans (Governor Kim Reynolds, Secretary of State Paul Pate, and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig) and two Democrats (State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and State Auditor Rob Sand) serve on the Executive Council. Assuming that body certifies the result, an election contest is extremely likely.

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Federal officials: Iowa can't use CARES Act funds for software system

The state of Iowa’s contract with Workday to upgrade computer systems “is not an allowable expenditure” under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Inspector General informed Iowa Department of Management Director David Roederer on October 16.

The State Auditor’s office released a copy of the letter on October 21. State Auditor Rob Sand announced two days earlier that he had also informed Governor Kim Reynolds and Roederer that spending $21 million on Workday-related costs was “not an appropriate use” of the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

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Auditor: Iowa governor misused $21 million in COVID-19 relief funds

Governor Kim Reynolds erred in directing that $21 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act be used to cover the cost of a software system purchased before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to State Auditor Rob Sand.

Sand announced on October 19 that he and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Inspector General “have advised Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds that her decision to use millions of CARES Act dollars to help implement a new software system for state government was not an allowable use of the funds.” The Treasury Department and governor’s office did not respond to requests for confirmation and comment.

Sand also described as “questionable” the use of CARES Act funds to pay the governor’s permanent staff. Bleeding Heartland was first to report last month that Reynolds directed $448,449 in COVID-19 relief funds to pay a portion of salaries and benefits for 21 of her staffers from mid-March through June 2020. Sand warned that a federal audit may eventually determine that the payments did not meet requirements, so reallocating the funds to purposes clearly allowed under the CARES Act would be less risky for taxpayers.

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Auditor, AG warn Iowans about improper election conduct

State Auditor Rob Sand and Attorney General Tom Miller reminded Iowans on September 30 about state laws prohibiting the use of public property to promote candidates and attempts to intimidate or threaten voters.

Sand’s advisory was a response to an incident in the western Iowa town of Ute (Monona County). Miller’s comments did not refer to any specific event but appeared relevant to comments President Donald Trump made during the September 29 televised debate.

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