State Auditor tells Sioux City crowd new legislation will limit his office

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 5:55 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand visited Sioux City Monday with a point to make: Partisanship is having an impact on the audits he performs, and that could impact your tax dollars.

Sand is Iowa’s only Democrat elected to a statewide office. He told members of the local Rotary Club a new law was passed by the Republican-led Iowa House and Senate. The first question Auditor Sand took Monday: How will Senate File 478 limit his office’s authority?

He says the bill, which awaits the governor’s signature, would limit the types of documents the auditor’s office could access.

“I’m not sure that the people, who are advocating this bill, have really thought through it because if they deny us access to records, we have a legal and ethical obligation to disclose that. And then, everyone is going to be left wondering what it is that they’re hiding,” said Sand.

Under the bill, a state agency could deny a request for records. Then, the auditor’s office would argue its case in front of a private arbitration panel, not a judge.

Ultimately, Sand told the Rotary Club members in downtown Sioux City that the deck would be stacked against his office if the new bill was signed because of how the appointments of the private arbitration panel are made.

“But the bottom line is everyone understands that if you have a three-person panel, where two work for the governor, and one is in our office, that the odds are you’re going to have a two-to-one decision on a pretty regular basis there,” said Sand.

One Rotarian asked if Senate File 478 was passed because Sand is a Democrat. Sand answered yes, but added he’s concerned the restrictions on the auditor’s office would also apply to a Republican office holder.

Republican State Senator Mike Bousselot, a sponsor of the bill, previously told the Iowa Capital Dispatch that the General Assembly has to be the watchdog of the state auditor’s office. He said the assembly must ensure the auditor’s office keeps Iowans’ private information, confidential.