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Rob Sand is running for a second term as state auditor, squashing speculation he’d seek higher office


State Auditor Rob Sand announces he’s running for reelection in a video posted to social media, Dec. 7, 2021.

Almost as soon as Rob Sand was elected Iowa State Auditor in 2018, political writers and the Iowa Republican Party began publicly speculating on what office he would run for in 2022. Would Sand, the only Democrat elected to statewide office that year who wasn’t already a longtime incumbent (Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald has been in office since 1983, and except for four years in 1990s, Tom Miller has been Iowa Attorney General since 1979), challenge Gov. Kim Reynolds in her inevitable run for reelection? Or would the 39-year-old Sand run for Senate against 88-year-old Chuck Grassley?

Sand answered those questions on Tuesday by announcing he’s running for reelection to his current job.

“I didn’t run for office because I love politics,” Sand said in a video posted on social media. “I ran for office because I can’t stand it. Too many people putting partisan interest ahead of the public interest.”

The auditor said he believes his office is “doing a good job of doing it differently.”

Sand said his staff is made up of Republicans, Democrats and people with no party preference working together.

“I think that’s the way it ought to be done,” he said in the video, as he walked his dog in a wooded area.

https://twitter.com/RobSandIA/status/1468312964369375234

Much of the criticism Sand has faced as auditor has been based on the likelihood of him running for a higher office. In 2020, Sand sent a letter to the Reynolds’ administration warning the governor has misappropriated $21 million in federal pandemic aid. The letter was dismissed by the governor’s supporters as just a political ploy designed to better Sand’s chances against her if he ran for governor. The U.S. Treasury Department, however, agreed with Sand’s analysis, and Reynolds was forced to return the money to the state’s coronavirus relief fund.

A similar dynamic is currently playing out, as Sand’s office issued an audit report last month documenting Reynolds misappropriating a further $450,000 in federal COVID-19 aid. Once again, Reynolds has claimed she is entitled to use the money as she did, her supporters have attacked Sand as having just political motives and the U.S. Treasury so far agrees with the auditor. Reynolds is appealing the Treasury Department’s decision.

In June, Sand issued a report in which he said Reynolds had violated a state ethics law against using public funds for self-promotion by appearing in a public service announcement encouraging people to take voluntary steps to limit the spread of COVID-19. The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board reviewed the PSA, and in August ruled unanimously that Reynolds didn’t violate the ethics law because that law exempts actions taken by a governor under “emergency powers,” and Reynolds had issued an emergency health proclamation regarding COVID-19. (The board is made up of three Republicans, two Democrats and one independent, all of whom were appointed by either Reynolds or Gov. Terry Branstad.)

The auditor’s office is being sued by a conservative public interest law firm that is seeking any correspondence Sand may have had regarding his decision to issue the report on Reynolds and the PSA.

In his video on Tuesday, Sand said he is particularly proud of the work his office is doing with local governments through its Public Innovations and Efficiencies (PIE) program.

“In the long run, we’re going to be able to unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer savings through helping local entities find ways to save money,” he said.

“Those are great things to be doing, I’m really proud to be doing them and I want to keep doing them,” Sand continued. “So, I’m asking for your support in getting elected to a second term as state auditor.”

Said wasn’t the only state official to announce a reelection bid on Tuesday. In the morning, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced he will run for his second full term next year. Naig, a Republican, was appointed by Reynolds to lead the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in 2017 after then Sec. Bill Northey resigned to take a position in the Trump administration. The following year, Naig was elected to a full four-year term.

In his announcement, Naig said he is “looking ahead to ensure that the future is bright for the next generation of Iowans who choose to go into agriculture.”


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