Reynolds: “I Want My Own AG,” A State Auditor Who Won’t Sue Her

Gov. Kim Reynolds made it clear over the weekend that she doesn’t want any other state officials holding her accountable or challenging her perceived dominion over Iowa.

During a Saturday event to celebrate the opening of her new campaign office, Reynolds, a Republican, called for the ouster of Attorney General Tom Miller and State Auditor Rob Sand, two Democrats whose offices have occasionally opposed her actions, in place of officials who would work to suit her needs.

“I want my own AG, please,” Reynolds yelled into a microphone in a moment captured by WHO reporter Taj Simmons. “And I need a state auditor that’s not trying to sue me every time they turn around; focus on your own office.”

Each of the three offices is elected independently by Iowa voters and help provide checks and balance for the state’s executive branch. All three seats are up for election this year.

Sand responded in a series of tweets and noted the job of his office is to watch over other governmental agencies in the state.

Sand also noted on Facebook that his office has never sued the governor’s office.

According to the Iowa Legislative Service Agency (LSA), “The Auditor of State is required by law to annually examine the books, accounts, and records of every state department and agency and conduct or arrange financial audits of every local governmental body receiving state funds, including counties, cities, and school districts.

“The Auditor ensures that government is open and accountable to its citizens by providing independent, accurate, and timely audits of the financial operations of Iowa’s state and local governments.”

Sand’s office did release a report in November that said Reynolds’ office misspent nearly $450,000 in federal coronavirus funding to pay 21 staffers. Her office also previously returned $21 million in federal relief money after it was spent to upgrade a state software system. 

Reynolds has accused Sand of using these reports for partisan purposes, but Sand noted the November report also called out Democrats.

“Everybody seems to miss this, [we] criticized Democrats for doing the same thing. That same report didn’t just mention that Reynolds had done it, it also mentioned that the Polk County Board of Supervisors had done the same thing,” he said on Iowa Press. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. We said that neither of them should be doing that.”

Reynolds also previously limited the scope of the attorney general’s office after striking a 2019 agreement with Miller. Under that agreement, Miller’s office has to seek the governor’s permission before joining out-of-state lawsuits, a restriction that previously was not in place.

This agreement was made after the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature approved a bill that would have limited the power of the attorney general’s office. Miller is the longest-serving Democrat at the state level and has been in office since 1978 minus a stint from 1991-94 where he served in private practice.

According to the LSA, the duties of the attorney general’s office are to lead the Iowa Department of Justice and serve as the state’s chief legal officer. The attorney general “represents the state and its agencies in court cases, gives legal advice to state agencies, and issues written opinions on questions of law submitted by state officials.”

 

by Ty Rushing
05/09/22

UPDATE (May 9, 2022, 12:22 p.m.): This story has been updated with the correct year for the deal between the Iowa Attorney General’s office and the Governor’s office.

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