Dem state auditor Rob Sand speaks in Jefferson

Rob Sand

Rob Sand, Democratic candidate for state auditor, sees the job of state auditor as being a watch dog over taxpayers’ money. He said at the Milwaukee Road depot in Jefferson Aug. 30 that it’s time to “wake up the watch dog.”

About 18 people attended the visit, which was number 90 of a 99-county tour Sand is doing as he campaigns.

Sand, an attorney who grew up in Decorah and graduated from law school at the University of Iowa, worked eight years in the state attorney general’s office, prosecuting public corruption. In the role, he worked frequently with the state auditor’s office.

The auditor’s office has two divisions – auditing and investigations. The second division does all investigations of public corruption in the state, but there is no one with law enforcement experience in the office.

He said that in some cases, the AGs ability to prosecute corruption cases was lessened by how the auditor’s office had done the investigation.

“I like the people in that division, and I look forward to working with them if I win,” Sand said. “But right now, that office is like a football team with 11 quarterbacks because they have only CPAs and accountants. That’s not going to get the outcome you’re looking for.”

He left the AG’s office because the darkness of the job began changing his fundamental outlook on life. He describes himself as a happy, optimistic person, but he was losing that in work that involved sex abuse, murder, armed robbery and more, and where a positive outcome sometimes involves sending children’s parents to prison. “I thought maybe I should do something else, something that gives me more of an opportunity to do something positive,” he explained.

He said that as he studied the state auditor’s job description in the Code of Iowa, he learned the state auditor can provide recommendations for efficiency and ways to save taxpayer money, not just find errors in accounting.

“The current state auditor’s office isn’t doing that. It’s sitting right there in the law. It’s just waiting for someone to do it….That’s something we can do that is positive for our state,” Sand said. “To get this office doing everything it could do for Iowa’s taxpayers is exciting.”

According to Sand, the state of Iowa had a $1 billion surplus when Republican Mary Mossiman became state auditor five years ago. Now the state budget is such that $100 million was “borrowed” from statutory set-aside funds and mid-year budget cuts were needed. “The state auditor never once barked. At the end of last year, she looked back at the budget and called it ‘stable,’ despite four years of cuts,” Sand said.

He said partisanship is the cause for the auditor’s denial of budget problems. The state auditor should be “focused on truth and accountability rather than partisanship,” he said.

The state auditor should be watching how all tax dollars are spent, including where money awarded to corporations via tax credits ends up. Any time tax credits are used to entice businesses on a promise to create jobs in Iowa, the auditor should be sure those jobs are created and are filled by Iowans, he said.

“There’s no one making sure we’re getting what we’re paying for,” Sand alleged.

He talked briefly about the lottery rigging scandal which led to the conviction of Eddie Tipton. He investigated and prosecuted the case.

He also mentioned a case he prosecuted in which local attorney Mark Rasmussen was the court appointed attorney for the defendant.

Rasmussen later said Sand treated all parties respectfully. “He’s not a vindictive person, but a fair person. He is open and willing to listen and resolve issues,” he said.

Sand is disappointed that Republicans are being told that being a CPA is a requirement to be state auditor. He said that is incorrect and that he’s talked with Mossiman about correcting that misperception. Nothing has been done.

Sand has raised three times more money for his campaign than any state auditor candidate has in Iowa. He has three times more donors and has not accepted money from political action committees (PACs), he said.

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