The co-chair of the Legislative Oversight Committee says the 14-member panel is “committed” to investigating the state film office and alleged mishandling of state tax credits for film makers. But Representative Vicki Lensing, a Democrat from Iowa City, announced at the start of today’s Oversight Committee meeting that nothing would happen on that front ’til the panel’s next meeting at the end of October.
“Oversight’s job has always been to oversee, but we’ve also learned to be patient,” Lensing said. “When there are investigations going on, we sometimes have to let that happen.” Governor Culver fired the film office manager on Monday and ordered that the tax credit program be suspended until investigators could figure out what went wrong.
A Republican legislator argued the Oversight Committee should review the program, too, before the tax credits are reinstated. According to Lensing, the Democrat who leads that committee, suggested the panel may begin its review on October 27th — the committee’s next meeting date.
“We have questions. We have concerns like all of you do. We need to keep the public informed. We need to be aware of what’s happening to public dollars,” Lensing told her fellow Oversight Committee members. “We just can’t get there today.” Earlier this week, the panel’s other co-chair told Radio Iowa it would be difficult for the legislative branch to conduct an investigation of the film office at the same time the executive branch is conducting an audit and criminal charges are possible against those involved.
Senator Rich Olive, a Democrat from Story City, said the Oversight Committee should “cast a wider net” and review all state tax credits. Governor Culver yesterday said his new chief of staff — who starts work Monday — would conduct a review of all 28 tax credits administered by the state.