Iowa House Votes to Limit State Auditor’s Access to Some Data, State Records

(Radio Iowa) Most Republicans in the Iowa House have voted to block the state auditor’s access to some types of personal or confidential information — and the bill forbids the state auditor from going to court to get access to state government records. The bill would set up a three-member arbitration panel to decide whether state agencies or state officials must turn over material for an audit or investigation. Representative Michael Bergan, a Republican from Dorchester, is the bill’s floor manager.

“The Auditor of State, a member of the executive branch, should not sue another member of the executive branch,” Sand says. “The cost and time involved in such an endeavor is a poor use of public funds.” House Speaker Pat Grassley says Republicans believe State Auditor Rob Sand has sought information that’s out of bounds.

“The bill is not intended to go after the ability to perform audits,” Grassley says. “The bill is intended to protect things like personal health statuses and other things…we consider outside of what the scope of an audit should look like.” Sand, the only Democrat in statewide office, says the bill would let any agency or state official hide records.

“This is the greatest perversion of checks and balances in Iowa history,” Sand says. Sand says the bill follows Republican efforts in other states to limit the authority of elected Democrats.

“Let’s be clear about this. This is the destruction of democratic norms. It’s continuing in Des Moines. That’s what this is,” Sand said. “The people of Iowa elected me and now they’re changing the rules for how this office operates because they didn’t like what I did in my first term and they didn’t like the fact that the public did like it.” Sand was first elected state auditor in 2018 and re-elected last November. Sand thanked the six House Republicans who voted against the bill. In March, the 34 Republicans in the Iowa Senate voted to make some types of documents, like tax returns, off limits to the state auditor’s office.