Gov. Kim Reynolds drew criticism for encouraging a crowd at a weekend campaign event to elect Republicans for state attorney general and auditor, asking specifically for someone who’s “not trying to sue (her) every time they turn around.”
“I want my own (attorney general), please,” Reynolds said in a video posted by WHO reporter Taj Simmons. “And I need a state auditor that’s not trying to sue me every time they turn around.”
Democrats currently hold both offices: Rob Sand was elected as state auditor in 2018. Attorney General Tom Miller was first elected in 1979 and has served more than 35 years in the position. Republican Brenna Bird, who lost to Miller in 2010, is challenging him again this year.
Sand has not sued Reynolds, according to an auditor’s office spokesperson. He has led several investigations into the Reynolds administration, including the alleged misuse of federal COVID-19 aid to pay for staff salaries and a new software system. Reynolds returned the $21 million used to purchase software.
Reynolds, Sand and Miller are all up for re-election in 2022.
Democrats criticized Reynolds for promoting Republican replacements to Sand and Miller, arguing the governor hopes to dodge oversight if re-elected.
“The state attorney general works for the people of Iowa, not the governor. The state auditor is the taxpayer watchdog, not the governor’s lapdog,” Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, said. “The governor wants cronies, instead of real accountability.”
The Republican Party of Iowa fired back that Reynolds “should be promoting Republican candidates up and down the ticket.”
“Iowans know how worthless our current state auditor, state treasurer and attorney general have been,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said in a statement. Kaufmann listed several Republican contenders for statewide office and said Iowans “will elect them to stand up to the overreach of the Biden administration and put Iowans ahead of D.C. special interests.”
Radio Iowa reported that Reynolds encouraged attendees of the event to vote for Republicans down the ballot, beyond just the statewide positions.
“And, it’s important that not only do you start at the top, but you go all the way down because our local officials need your help, too,” Reynolds said, according to Radio Iowa. “That is our bench.”
On Monday, Sand tweeted screenshots and clips of instances when he defended Reynolds. He pointed to a 2022 report that concluded late updating of COVID-19 data was the result of lab delays, not a cover-up by Reynolds or the Department of Public Health.
“I’ll keep doing this no matter what, because it’s the right thing to do,” Sand tweeted. “My hope is others will join me and we can make our politics and our state better for it.”
Sand also took the opportunity to link to his fundraising website: “She wants a lap dog. Keep your watchdog here,” he tweeted.
Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa is running for the Republican nomination for state auditor. On Hanusa’s campaign website, she said the role of state auditor is “not about politics.”
“Using this important office to launch baseless investigations based on partisan politics is wrong and disrespects the people of Iowa who place their trust in this office to ensure sound government,” the website reads.
Hanusa’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
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