A federal audit is raising questions about how Governor Chet Culver spent federal money while he was Iowa’s Secretary of State.
Congress passed the “Help America Vote Act” in 2002 and forwarded millions to Iowa and other states to improve the voting process. The audit questions Culver’s decision to spend over a million dollars on a “Celebrate Voting” initiative in 2005. Culver planned concerts and other events to mark the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the 85th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
The audit cites Culver for failing to properly document personnel costs and for failing to solicit bids from a variety of vendors before awarding contracts. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission Office of Inspector General audited how federal funds were spent in the Iowa Secretary of State’s office from April 10, 2003 through April 30, 2008. Culver was Secretary of State, and manager of that office, when the problems cited in the audit occurred.
Chris Rants of Sioux City, a Republican candidate for governor, says this audit shows the mismanagement of the Iowa Film Office which recently came to light isn’t a fluke.
“This is just another example in a line of things where Chet Culver has mismanaged public funds and now he has no one else to blame. There’s no one else to fire. There’s no one else to finger-point at,” Rants says. “He was secretary of state. The buck stopped at his desk and it was his decisions and I think Iowa voters will hold him accountable for it.”
Rants accuses Culver of “incompetence” and warns that Iowa taxpayers may have to foot the bill for his mistakes, as the federal government may ask the State of Iowa to repay the money auditors charge was misspent in the secretary of state’s office.
“Chet Culver’s mismanagement of public money goes back to his days in the secretary of state’s office. Governor Culver has no one else to blame,” Rants says. “He’s got to take the responsibility himself and I’m pretty sure the public knows that it’s his job that’s on the line this time.”
Phil Roeder, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, issued a written statement, saying “many of the issues raised (in the audit) resulted from federal guidelines being applied to Iowa only after many of our state’s HAVA programs were already completed.” Some issues in the audit have “already been settled,” according to Roeder, but “there are also several points of disagreement and the State will continue to work with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to resolve these differences.”