State auditor limits are political 2023

Republicans in the Iowa Legislature forwarded a bill to Gov. Kim Reynolds that would limit the state auditor’s power to request personal information during audits and establish an arbitration mechanism that would hinder the auditor’s investigations.

After being reelected last November, Iowa state auditor Rob Sand is the only Democrat in statewide office. Despite expanding Brenna Bird’s powers, Republicans say this isn’t political.

Their claims stink.

This is a politically motivated attempt to limit auditor powers. Reynolds should veto Senate File 478 for Iowans.

It’s bad enough that lawmakers seek to prevent the auditor from getting taxpayers’ watchdog information. Republicans also want a three-person arbitration body to address auditor-government agency disputes. It forbade litigation.

The panel would include an auditor, a representative of the agency under investigation, and a governor-appointed member. Such a body would thwart an auditor’s investigation.

“It remains the greatest pro-corruption bill in state history, and the worst perversion of checks and balances in Iowa history,” Sand stated at a recent news conference.

“To take an independently elected office in the Iowa Constitution and subject its work to the approval of the very same entity that it is attempting to audit, perverts checks and balances, plain and simple.”

We concur.

This bill seems designed to avoid embarrassing agency misconduct in the Republican-controlled executive branch.

The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency warns that removing auditory powers might imperil $12 billion in federal financing for various programs if the bill passes. Federal grants may be withheld if Sand cannot independently audit the entities receiving them.

Iowa law and federal law require the state auditor to handle personal information confidentially. State auditors and accountants from both parties have asked lawmakers to drop the bill.

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