The race for State Treasurer pits the long-time Democrat office holder against a political newcomer who has the endorsement of his former football coach, Hayden Fry. Thirty-three-year-old Matt Whitaker — the Republican candidate for State Treasurer — grew up in Ankeny and played tight end for the Iowa Hawkeyes, playing on the 1990 team that went to the Rose Bowl, and the 1991 team that went 10-1-1. He earned an M-B-A and a law degree, then moved to Minnesota for a job as a corporate lawyer. He moved back to Iowa a couple of years ago to work as lawyer in Des Moines and he started two businesses: one manufactures trailers; the other sells scoreboards and videoboards. Whitaker faces 50-year-old Michael Fitzgerald who’s been treasurer for 20 years, and Fitzgerald emphasizes that experience. Fitzgerald says in this day and age with accounting scandals, he’s never lost of penny of taxpayer dollars and never been criticized by the Republican Auditor over how he’s handled those investments. Fitzgerald says he wants to continue his “safe, conservative” investment policies which have invested 100-million dollars in Iowa banks . But Fitzgerald’s opponent says the other 700-MILLION dollars is being invested in New York banks and Whitaker would bring that money back to Iowa institutions. Whitaker says Fitzgerald’s not a bad person, but the Treasurer’s office should be more involved in economic development and be a better watchdog of taxpayer dolllars. Fitzgerald teamed with out-going State Auditor Richard Johnson to press then-Governor Terry Branstad and the Legislature to change the state’s accounting methods to more accurately reflect spending, and get rid of the smoke-screens which hid a deficit. Whitaker says Fitzgerald hasn’t performed that “whistleblower” function since Governor Tom Vilsack, a fellow Democrat, has been in office.
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