Statement on Governor’s misuse of federal COVID funds

Statement by Senator Claire Celsi on findings by State Auditor and U.S. Treasury Department’s Inspector General on misuse of federal COVID relief funds by Governor Reynolds

Sen. Claire Celsi is Ranking Member of the Senate Administration and Regulation Subcommittee

“I am disappointed that Governor Reynolds used taxpayer money intended for COVID-19 related uses for non-pandemic expenditures. 

”These findings, discovered during Auditor Rob Sands’ review and confirmed by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General, prove that Governor Reynolds misused more than $20 million of federal funds the state received to fund COVID-19 relief measures that are desperately needed in our state.

“Instead of directing more money to testing and contact tracing, paid sick leave for essential workers, food assistance, childcare subsidies, additional money for rent assistance, unemployment insurance, utility assistance, providing PPE to healthcare workers and educators, and to help schools prepare for the winter season — and myriad of other uses —  Governor Reynolds is using the CARES Act money as a means to fund pet projects and make Iowa’s budget appear flush with excess funds.

“The U.S. Treasury had explicit rules on how this money could be used, and upon examination, it appears those rules were ignored.

“A few months ago, I asked State Auditor Rob Sand to investigate the use of COVID-19 relief money to fund Workday, an IT project that was already underway before the pandemic.

“Normally, the Senate Oversight Committee would investigate this type of action, but Auditor Sands’ independent investigation is the only option we have at this time. I fully support his critical examination of this misappropriation of taxpayer dollars.

“I urge Department of Management Director Roderer and Governor Reynolds to immediately rectify this situation and use the COVID-19 funding for COVID-19 expenses, not as a supplement to our normal Iowa general fund budget.”