Iowa's GOP governor used COVID-19 funds to break self-promotion law: state auditor
Screenshot via Iowa PBS

An investigative audit has found that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds violated a state law that prohibits using public money for self promotion -- public money that amounted to $152,585 of federal coronavirus relief funding, Axios reports.

According to Axios, the audit shows the increasing tension between Reynolds and Democratic auditor Rob Sand, who's scouting a run in the 2022 gubernatorial race.

November's $500,000 "Step Up, Stop the Spread" campaign included money for paid TV, radio and online advertisements which featured Reynolds. Sand says the advertising spend violates state campaign finance law -- a law that was signed into existence by Reynolds herself.

"In performing this investigation, the facts show that the governor violated Iowa Code Section 68A.405A, which prohibits the use of public moneys for self-promotion," Sand stated in his report.

But Reynolds could be absolved by the fact that public heath disaster emergencies are exempt from the self-promotion statute thanks to Iowa's emergency management law.

"Any competent reading of the plain language of state code would have acknowledged the role of the Governor in promoting an emergency order. Neither the Governor's Office nor the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board were consulted prior to the issuance of Auditor Sand's report. If that had happened, anyone within those offices could have directed the Auditor to the plain language of Iowa's image-and-likeness statute and pointed out that, during a disaster emergency, the Governor may address Iowans in a public service announcement," the governor's office said in a statement.