Iowa State Auditor attacks governor over jobs, Burlington advertising campaign

Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand was at Crapo Park in Burlington on Tuesday to talk about jobs… and Governor Kim Reynolds.

Sand told an assembly of a dozen people that after COVID-19 caused businesses to close, he looked at the state’s $ 1 billion surplus and wondered if this money could have been spent elsewhere.

“Only seven hundred and fifty restaurants, and we could have saved them all,” Sand said. “There is no reason why the state could not have put in place a subsidy program. “

Even if what companies are doing for their communities was not enough, Sand argued, the fact that companies also contribute to state taxes should have been enough of an incentive to want to offer more help. Instead, Sand accused the governor’s office of paying money to tech companies that don’t have local connections.

“They don’t even want them to stay in Iowa,” Sand said.

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Robert Morrison of Burlington told Sand he feels frustrated that businesses continue to move outside of the community. Morrisons said he was tricked into believing Siemens was profitable before the plant closed in 2019, taking jobs with it.

Since then, the ABB factory has also announced that it will close with layoffs throughout the summer. Morrison claimed Reynolds visited a Siemens factory in North Carolina while the one in Burlington faced shutdowns.

It’s a problem that Sand, a Democrat, frustrates him. He said part of the problem lies at the federal level. If companies can choose to move abroad with less protections for workers and the federal government will do nothing to stop it, there is little the state can do.

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Outside of jobs and the economy, the biggest questions attendees had of Sand related to her office’s investigations, particularly a recent one into whether Reynolds, a Republican, acted inappropriately when she appeared. in advertisements for the “Mask up Iowa” campaign to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Elected officials and lawmakers across the state cannot use the money under their control to pay for paid advertising to have it themselves,” Sand said. “You shouldn’t be able to use taxpayer dollars to say, ‘Hey, I’m here to remind you who I am.'”

State Auditor Rob Sand speaks with a dozen Crapo Park citizens about jobs and Gov. Kim Reynolds at his Des Moines County town hall on Tuesday.  Sand criticized Reynolds' leadership under COVID-19 and his use of public funds for the Mask Up Iowa campaign.

Sand was referring to a 2018 law signed by Reynolds that prohibits those in state-elected office from promoting themselves on television. Because the TV commercials were a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Reynolds said she was in her emergency powers to appear there, saying Sand was only attacking her because he is a Democrat who could. be interested in running against it someday.

Sand said he also challenged Polk County supervisors, mostly made up of Democrats, getting into paid ads. However, since the law does not apply to civil servants at the local level, he said there is little he can do.

Sand said approximately $ 150,000 of the $ 500,000 spent on the “Mask Up” campaign was for paid advertising, not public service announcements.

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Sand questioned why Reynolds had to tell people to wear masks when many health experts across the country have been touting the need for masks for several months. He also wondered why she never talked about using her emergency powers as a reason to appear in commercials ahead of time.

“Support (wear masks) legally, not illegally,” he said.

Sand, who travels through counties in Iowa, created a program to help save money called the Public Innovation and Efficiency Program. Des Moines County entities that have expressed interest in the program include the county itself, Mediapolis and Danville.

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