The initial audit of the Iowa Film offices wasn’t the only audit released yesterday dealing with Governor Chet Culver’s ability to administer millions of taxpayer dollars. Clifton Gunderson LLP, the same firm that audited the Iowa Film Office, was also selected by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to audit the Iowa Secretary of State’s administration of payments received under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The years which the commission audited were the years in which Governor Chet Culver served as Iowa’s Secretary of State.
In a memo regarding the HAVA audit, Curtis Crider, the Inspector General of the commission, said, “In its audit of the SOS [Culver], Clifton Gunderson concluded that [Culver] did not account for and expend HAVA funds in accordance with the HAVA requirements or comply with the financial management requirements established by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.”
The audit shows that Culver failed to comply with numerous requirements of the Help America Vote Act. Some of Culver’s violations include:
• Awarded $1.2 M in sole source contracts to three vendors, and in violation of normal state bidding and purchasing regulations;
• Spent $2,555,274 on “questionable activities” (Appendix C);
• Spent $118,224 on activities unrelated to voter education;
• $885,573 of salaries and benefits were paid without proper documentation that the work done was HAVA related; and
• $3,094,662 in accounting errors and misreported funds.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Chris Rants told TheIowaRepublican.com that Iowans have figured out that Governor Culver struggles to manage the state’s budget, but the recent developments with the Iowa Film Office and this new audit of the Secretary of State’s office while under his control show that the incompetence of the Culver administration stems from Culver himself.
In a press release sent out last night, Rants highlights two paragraphs from the audit that mention the problem of Culver awarding no-bid contracts. The audit states:
“The problem was that fees for services were negotiated with the contractors and not subjected to competition and comparison with other bidders so that the SOS [Culver] could ensure it got the best value or even a reasonable price. For example, the professional fee with the vendor for facilitation and management of the HAVA program was identified as $22,145 per month for the last 11 months of 2005 without identifying an hourly rate or an estimate of the hours to be worked or the number of employees assigned to the contract in order to earn the monthly fee.”
“The following amounts were paid to contractors where sole source procurements were made by the SOS [Culver] without justification and where the SOS [Culver] did not have procurement standards and requirements for full and open competition, affirmative steps to assure that minority firms, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms are used when possible, cost and pricing analysis, and a written code of conduct that prohibited real or apparent financial conflicts of interest. Accordingly, we question all costs associated with these contracts.”
Rants added, “Chet Culver’s habit of awarding no-bid contracts to the State Public Policy Group (SPPG) deserves more investigation. Culver’s decision making certainly raised red flags with the auditors,” said Rants. “As Governor, he awarded them a no-bid contract with RIO, and now it is discovered that they were paid $763,702 on a no-bid contract when he was Secretary of State. Culver has ignored his duty to make sure the taxpayers get the best deal possible, and instead continues to reward friends and supporters.”
The audit from the US Election Commission comes at a terrible time for the Governor. At a time when the Culver administration is doing everything it can to find someone to blame for the debacle at the Iowa Film Office, this new audit provides an example of how Culver wasn’t even able to administer programs as Secretary of State.
The findings of this audit and the initial audit of the Iowa Film Office confirm what many Iowans already suspect – Governor Culver isn’t capable of handling the state’s budget or its many programs and initiatives. With these latest findings, you have to ask yourself if it was a good idea for the Democrat-controlled legislature to pass Culver’s $830 million I-Jobs proposal.
It is clear that Governor Culver is in over his head.
The complete audit relating to the HAVA can be downloaded here.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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