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Audit: Governor improperly used COVID funds for salaries

FILE - Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a news conference at Iowa Spring Manufacturing,...
FILE - Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a news conference at Iowa Spring Manufacturing, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Adel, Iowa. A new state audit report on government spending released Monday, Nov. 15 accuses Reynolds of using nearly $450,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to pay salaries for 21 staff members for three months last year and concealing the spending by passing it through the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)(Charlie Neibergall | AP)
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 6:06 AM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A new state audit report on government spending accuses Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds of using nearly $450,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to pay salaries for 21 members of her staff for three months last year and concealing the spending by passing it through the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

State Auditor Rob Sand says a review of the state’s payroll system shows the money was used to pay the governor’s office staff, but it’s unclear why she had to take federal money to pay the salaries and why the funds weren’t initially in her budget. Reynolds’ office responded Monday by saying she is working to provide federal officials the documentation needed to approve the funds.

The Governor’s office released a statement in response to the report:

“The United States Department of the Treasury confirmed that the use of Coronavirus Relief Funds to reimburse the salaries and benefits of a governor’s staff is an allowable expense. During this time, the Governor’s staff spent a vast majority of their time responding to the pandemic. In fact, many members of Gov. Reynolds’ staff worked seven days a week out of the State Emergency Operation Center to provide direct support to Iowans. This has always been our justification for the expense. We are now working with Treasury to provide them documentation, per their request.”

A copy of the report is available for review on the Auditor of State’s website.

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