Want to place bets that a new federal report will end up in a campaign ad for Terry Branstad? The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission released a report late Monday afternoon that finds the Secretary of State’s office owes a big chunk of change…nearly $576,000. The commission reaffirmed some previous complaints about the way Chet Culver spent money during his tenure as Michael Mauro’s predecessor as Secretary of State. Republican critics several years ago questioned how Culver could spend taxpayer cash from the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) on things like cake and performances from Iowa native, Simon Estes.
The report finds the Secretary of State’s office needs to repay the money but not to the feds. Mauro’s office said the money needs to go back to the State Elections Office, which funds programs like the state voter registration database, making voting booths accessible, etc. So where does the Secretary of State get all that cash to repay? That’s the question of the day. A spokesperson for Mauro said it will now be up to Governor Culver and/or lawmakers. Apparently, Mauro’s office doesn’t have more than half a million bucks sitting around.
During the primary campaign, Republican George Eichhorn tried to make a political issue out of this and criticized Mauro for the mis-spending, even though it happened when Culver held the office. Eichhorn, by the way, finished last in the Republican primary.