Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz will ask the Legislature for $140,000 to pursue voter fraud for another year despite openly hostile criticism from Senate majority Democrats Tuesday for his two-year investigation. Schultz, a first-term Republican, has come under fire for using $240,000 in funds from the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to pay for a Division of Criminal Investigation agent to look into voter fraud. HAVA was established after the disputed 2000 presidential election to fund voter education and voter participation efforts. After nearly two years of investigation, 26 people have been charged and five have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors. “That’s enough for me to see that we have a problem,” Schultz said. “Twenty-six people cancelling the vote of other Iowans is a big enough problem to keep this going forward.”
Tuesday was the secretary’s second day in a row on the legislative hot seat. Monday, lawmakers grilled Schultz, who is seeking the GOP nomination in Iowa’s U.S. House 3rd District open-seat race, on why three Cerro Gordo County voters had their ballots wrongfully thrown out in the 2012 election. Schultz argued that mistake would not have been discovered without his investigation and that they are now back on the voter rolls.
Democrats on the Senate Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee were skeptical of that and seemed disinclined to grant Schultz’s budget request to use taxpayer dollars to continue his investigation.
“If the outcomes and the data don’t support the evidence or the expenditures, then it’s highly unlikely it would be funded,” said Chairwoman Liz Mathis, D-Cedar Rapids.