Iowa’s new state auditor has approved a review of how her former boss is spending an estimated $280,000 in federal grant money.
Mary Mosiman was a deputy in Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s office until May, when Governor Branstad appointed her state auditor.
Mosiman sent a letter last week to state Senator Tom Courtney, a Democrat from Burlington, who has been asking for an audit to determine whether Schultz improperly used federal Help America Vote Act money on a “voter fraud goose chase.”
“We needed an investigation as to why the secretary of state is using HAVA funds that were never meant for that to hire an investigator to check into what he considers to be people voting that shouldn’t be voting,” Courtney says.
The new state auditor says she won’t be part of the review, since it involved her former boss. Her top deputy will be in charge of reviewing the secretary of state’s decision to use Help America Vote Act money to pay for an investigator who’s been searching for people who were ineligible to vote, but cast a ballot in recent elections.
Secretary of State Matt Schultz has defended that decision, saying it’s part of his effort to ensure Iowa’s elections are clean and fair. Schultz says the federal grant money can be used to improve the administration of federal elections and he argues ensuring ineligible voters are kept from voting achieves that goal.
Brad Anderson, the Democrat who hopes to challenge Schultz in the 2014 election, says it’s “common sense” to think “Help America Vote” money “should be used to actually help Americans vote.” Anderson calls Schultz’s voter fraud investigation a “complete waste of taxpayer money.”
Eight Iowans have been charged with voter fraud under the secretary of state’s initiative. Two were felons who have not had their voting rights restored after being released from prison and parole. The other six are citizens of a foreign country. A state judge has dismissed two of the cases.