The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division has been touting its “art collection” online.
A state audit questions a variety of spending and personnel decisions made by former Alcoholic Beverages Division administrator Lynn Walding. The governor tried to fire Walding in late 2008, but was advised by the attorney general he had no legal basis to do so.
Walding lost the position this past April when his four-year term in the post expired and Culver appointed someone else to the job.
During his tenure at the state liquor warehouse, Walding authorized the purchase of $23,000 worth of art work by an artist who was a friend of Walding’s wife.
The Alcoholic Beverages Division “art collection” has been featured on the agency’s website. Eighteen works of art have been featured, ranging from a portrait of a Native American Warrior to landscapes to nautical themes. None of the artwork featured on the website is that of Marlene Olson, the artist who is a friend of the former administrator’s wife. According to the audit, Olson sold eight works of art to the agency during Walding’s tenure.
The audit cites a state law which does allow state agencies to acquire artwork for public reception or waiting areas, but none of Olson’s art is in a public area. You can see in this “gallery” the 18 other featured pieces in the agency’s art collection.