An Iowa senator asked a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday to confirm appointees to a federal election commission so a decision can be made about whether Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is properly using money for voter fraud investigations. Schultz, a Republican, last year agreed to pay the Iowa Division of Criminal investigation up to $280,000 over two years to investigate voter fraud. A review of those voter fraud investigations last month by The Des Moines Register found fewer than 20 cases in which charges were brought against alleged cheats and just five cases in which Iowans were convicted of election-related offenses. Sen. Tom Courtney, a Democrat, questions whether the use of the money sent to Iowa as part of the Help America Vote Act was legal. Courtney said the funds are intended for education about voting procedures, voter rights and technology, and not for “a voter fraud goose chase.”
Courtney said he sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. The committee oversees nominations for a variety of federal posts and held a hearing as recently as last month on nominees for the Election Assistance Commission, which administers Help America Vote Act money.
“Without action by your committee, Iowa Secretary of State Schultz is free to thumb his nose at taxpayers and the currently toothless federal watchdog — the U.S. Election Assistance Committee — because he knows there are virtually no limitations on how he spends the funds,” Courtney wrote in the letter.