Governor improperly used COVID funds for salary

Des Moines, Iowa (AP) —A state audit report on government spending released Monday was given by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds at the Federal Corona Virus Relief Fund to pay the salaries of 21 employees over the last three months. It through the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which has spent about $ 450,000 and accused of concealing spending by passing through.

State auditor Rob Sand said a review of the state salary system showed that the money was spent paying the Republican Governor’s office staff, but because she paid her salary. It’s unclear why he had to take federal money.

“It’s unclear why these salaries weren’t included in the governor’s budget set before the fiscal year and before the pandemic,” he said in an audit report. “Based on this information, we conclude that the budget shortage was not the result of a pandemic.”

Mr. Sando requested the Reynolds office twice for documents to support his spending, and in March, April, May and June 2020, he asked the Governor’s staff to respond to COVID-19 and protect Iowa. I was told that I was completely focused, but spending on COVID responses.

He wrote to Reynolds’ office in October and told her that paying staff salaries without proper documentation would not be approved by the federal government, but they ignored his proposal. Said.

Mr. Sando requested information from the Department of Homeland Security and the Danish Emergency Management Agency, saying that he was initially provided with a spreadsheet listing the governor’s employees, a section labeled shortage in 2020, and $ 448,448.86. I did. The next version was sent to him and the section title was modified to COVID-19 labor costs for the same amount.

“A spreadsheet showing that COVID 19 is basically not a shortage, but a header change to say it’s a big deal,” he told The Associated Press, and the Reynolds administration tried to hide the use of federal funds. That closes the salary gap.

Reynolds spokesman Alex Murphy said in a statement that the US Treasury had allowed the Governor’s salary to be repaid using the coronavirus bailout.

“During this time, the Governor’s staff spent most of their time responding to the pandemic. In fact, many members of the Governor’s Reynolds staff worked seven days a week from the State of Emergency Center to provide direct assistance to Iowans. “I did,” the statement said. We will work with the Treasury to provide documents upon their request. “

Former Reynolds Addressed the issue At a press conference in September, Laura Belin, publisher of the liberal-oriented online blog Bleeding Heartland, reported on the issue after seeking documentation through Iowa’s Public Records Act.

Reynolds said the Federal Coronavirus Relief Act allows salaries to be paid to workers whose job requirements have changed significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“CARES funds can be used for salaries, which is very clear about what the permissible allocations are,” she said.

Mr Sando said his office had further investigated spending as the Inspector General’s office requested an investigation. He said the federal agency had reviewed and agreed to the findings of his office. According to Sandoz, it may be a problem that Reynolds’ office is trying to create a document after telling the auditor’s office twice that there is no such document.

“If you come up with a document after saying it twice, you have to worry about it if you don’t have it,” he said.

Mr Sando said the state may need to repay the money to the federal government.

This audit is not the first time Reynolds has been found to have spent federal funding on unauthorized use.

December 2020, Reynolds Had to go back $ 21 million COVID-19 relief after using it to upgrade an old state information technology system.

Funds were initially allocated to payments related to the state’s contract with Workday, a cloud-based talent, finance, and planning system implemented to modernize the state’s IT infrastructure. Of the allocation, $ 4.45 million had already been spent.

According to Reynolds, U.S. Treasury officials initially assured the state that the Workday project was an acceptable cost, but now allow payments under federal corona virus support, relief, and economic security laws. I have determined that it has not been done.