Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand on Friday told Iowa Press that he was considering a run for Governor or U.S. Senate, as well as reelection to the Auditor job, and spoke critically on the state’s GOP-controlled pandemic response.
Sand, one of the only statewide Democratic leaders, said that he had no timeline for his decision to announce which office he’d seek in the future, noting that he’s also considering a run for reelection to his state auditor post.
“I have no announcement to make. I haven’t decided yet what I’m doing. I spent most of my week actually reading the American Rescue Plan, trying to figure out how our office is going to fit into some of that spending. So I’m still focused on that right now,” Sand said. “I’m looking at reelection, potentially running for Governor, maybe running for U.S. Senate.”
As auditor and government watchdog, Sand said he thinks the pandemic response from Governor Kim Reynolds and the GOP-led Legislature has been weak. He also sounded the alarm on misused funds as COVID-19 ravaged the state.
“The taxpayer’s watchdog has the ability to sniff around and to bark when it finds something that’s not going the way it ought to. And we did that when it came to $21 million in Workday spending. We’ve cautioned the governor in taking half a million dollars to spend on her personal staff instead of mitigating the pandemic. She’s going to have to document how that went to qualify. And the bigger issue to me is that we’ve got at this point its late April, close to a billion dollars sitting in the state’s accounts while Iowans are suffering,” Sand said.
“And at any point, a special session could have been called, the legislature could have passed something to get that money out there to struggling small business owners, to make sure they can get through this pandemic in Iowa’s culture in our small towns maintains what it used to be so that it can be normal to come back to. And they haven’t done that.”
Radio Iowa News Director Kay Henderson noted that Sand had evidently prepared talking points to run against Governor Kim Reynolds in 2022 and questioned why he hadn’t committed to run for the role.
“I’ve got a four-and-a-half-year-old, a freshly-minted seven-year-old at home, these are big questions, they’re hard to balance,” he responded. “And there’s certainly things that weigh in both directions. And I just haven’t finished weighing them.”
If he were leading the state, Sand said he’d do things differently. First off, he’d offer state funds for failing small businesses like small-town restaurants.
“The fact that they’ve been unwilling to help, unwilling to assist, to me is wild. Just the Restaurant Association alone, I think, is looking at a thousand restaurants across the state of Iowa that have closed. And state government hasn’t lifted a finger in terms of state funds to help them,” he said.
“Can you imagine a ship captain? The ship’s going down, and the ship captain goes, ‘well folks, we’re just going to trash these lifeboats and these life vests because there’s not enough for everybody.’ It’s irresponsible.”
Sand noted that the federal assistance money, though significant, is coming “too late” for a lot of people who should have seen state leadership help them from the beginning of the pandemic.
“It was bizarre to me to see the governor of the state of Iowa say that’s the federal government’s job. She’s elected to look out for the state of Iowa. To serve the people of Iowa. And instead of Iowans getting what they need in this time of need, she’s going to do with that money what she wants,” Sand said.
by Isabella Murray
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