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Follow the Money: Audit Finds Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Abused COVID-19 Relief Funds, Didn’t Use Them to Address Pandemic

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An audit from Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand found Gov. Kim Reynolds misused at least $21 million in CARES Act relief funds.


Rather than using the funds to help essential workers and directly respond to the pandemic, Reynolds paid for a new software system for her office and lined the pockets of her staff. Sand said, “These expenditures are not ‘due to the public health emergency.’”


If Reynolds does not use the money to directly address the pandemic, the funds will have to be returned to the federal government, resulting in a loss of $21 million for Iowa taxpayers.


Here’s an idea – Reynolds could use the money to test, trace, and report COVID-19 cases in schools, which she is refusing to do, even though she forced them to open against their will. Reynolds could also provide personal protective equipment to teachers, offer paid sick leave to essential employees, or allocate more funds to unemployment insurance – but for now, she seems to think HR software is a better use of those funds.


Reynolds hasn’t made good judgement calls on the pandemic – in addition to abusing CARES Act funds and forcing schools to open, she has also refused to mandate masks. Near-universal mask-wearing could save 100,000 lives by January 1.


It’s clear Iowans know they deserve better than this. According to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll from last month, more Iowans disapprove than approve of Reynolds’ handling of the pandemic.


“Kim Reynolds’ misuse of taxpayer funds shows where her priorities lie,” said DGA Communications Director David Turner. “Instead of using COVID-19 relief funds to help with schools, testing and contact tracing, and the needs of health care workers, Reynolds directed the funds to her own staffers and office software. Iowans deserve a governor who puts their safety above the need for office supplies.”