The nearly $150,000 that Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s office has spent on a long-running voter fraud investigation may not be an appropriate use of federal money, the state auditor suggested in a letter released today. In the letter, a deputy to State Auditor Mary Mosiman recommends that Schultz’s office develop a plan to repay the costs associated with the investigation if a federal election commission decides criminal investigations are not an allowed use for funds provided under the Helping America Vote Act. The issue centers on an agreement between the Secretary of State’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations, in place since July, 2012, under which a DCI agent is assigned full time to investigate cases of voter fraud. To date, that effort has yielded charges in 16 cases and five guilty pleas at a cost of about $150,000.
Schultz’s office is paying for the DCI agent using so-called HAVA funds. In a statement released Thursday, he defended the practice.
“As I’ve said all along, the use of HAVA funds for a DCI investigator to investigate voter fraud in Iowa has been proper,” Schultz said. “The investigation has helped the administration of federal elections in Iowa by helping ensure the integrity of votes cast by Iowans.”
The source of funding has been called into question by state Sen. Thomas Courtney, leading to the auditor’s review.