The state Auditor’s Office last week added another maddening chapter to the sad, sordid saga of the Iowa Finance Authority.
Since March, when its former director, David Jamison, was fired after multiple women detailed sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, scrutiny of the agency has yielded troubling headlines.
This time, an audit of the IFA’s finances spanning the past two years found almost $550,000 had been misspent on improper payments and expenses. Almost $330,000 came through excessive payroll costs that “did not meet the test of public purpose,” including “larger than typical pay increases.” Several employees received promotions and raises larger than other state employees.
There were improper credit card purchases, including the purchase of alcohol during business hours, and travel expenses. The authority spent too much money on car leases, rather than use current state fleet vehicles. Excessive mileage reimbursements and a sports sponsorship deal also were cited.
Mismanagement of an agency charged with addressing Iowa’s critical housing and infrastructure needs should concern every Iowan. And news of these misspent dollars comes after the state spent $100,000 to investigate harassment allegations leveled at Jamison. The investigation concluded Jamison did engage in “sexually harassing conduct.”
This is yet another example showing the importance of placing competent, proven and ethical people in charge of state departments and agencies. Too often, political influence, partisan identity and personal connections trump those basic, necessary qualities.
It’s true, all governors appoint friends and allies to state posts. But first and foremost, taxpayers deserve a government that functions well, puts their interests first and doesn’t throw away their tax dollars. The Iowa Finance Authority failed that test.
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We hope newly elected state auditor Rob Sand will be more aggressive in finding and addressing these episodes far sooner.
It might be that agencies should be subject to more frequent spot checks to detect trouble. The goal should be to find misconduct as swiftly as possible to save taxpayer dollars.
Sand successfully ran on a pledge to become a tough-minded watchdog. Clearly the IFA saga shows our state government needs one.
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