GOP rendition of ‘Kum Bah Ya' hits sour note with Democratic lawmaker

Hunter: Auditor's report on embezzlement was attempt to smear Culver administration

A presentation by the Auditor’s Office about embezzlement during the Culver administration was nothing more than a “political show” by majority Republicans, according to the ranking Democrat on the House Labor Committee.

“There was no need, no purpose for it,” Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, said after the committee heard from auditors about their recommendations that Iowa Workforce Development procedures be strengthened to prevent thefts similar to one in 2009 when a former employee embezzled more than $43,000.

“As far as I could see, the department had a problem and corrected it,” Hunter said, adding that that IWD began strengthening its security measures even before receiving the auditor’s recommendations.

Hunter believed that the GOP-controlled committee was making political hay of the embezzlement that occurred while Democrat Gov. Chet Culver was in office and his appointee, Michael Mauro, was overseeing Workforce Development.

But Chairman Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia, said Hunter drew the wrong conclusion.

“The conclusion I drew was that this was an isolated incident and both administrations were making efforts to be good stewards” of state resources,” Forristall said.

The Auditor’s Office became involved after a Workforce investigation in 2010 found improper disbursements issued by a former adviser, Linda Pippen, 43, of Fairfax. She was convicted in federal court for embezzling from a federally funded program and aggravated identity theft in December 2011.

Deputy State Auditor Tami Kusian said no irregularities involving other employees were discovered and no legislative action was needed in response to the Pippen case.

Hunter was put out by what he saw as a Republican attempt to tarnish the Culver administration.

“What bothers me about your presentation is all the information about the previous administration being uncooperative and all the ‘Kum Bah Ya’ about the Branstad administration,” he said.

“Kum Bah Ya” is a spiritual song from the 1930s that today is used cynically to suggest a naively optimistic view of the human nature.

“It’s all ‘Culver administration is bad, Branstad administration is good,’” Hunter said.

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