State Auditor Defends Office’s ‘Aggressiveness, Assertiveness’ During Glenwood Town Hall
Since taking office in 2019, Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand has earned the reputation for being a bulldog when it comes to auditing and investigating public offices and non-profit agencies across the state.
Speaking to an audience during a Town Hall gathering Thursday morning at Hiley Park in Glenwood, Sand made no apologies for the “aggressiveness” his office has become known for.
“I had a guy up in Allamakee County, literally in the opposite corner of the state, he’s been a state employee for 24 years,” Sand told his audience. “He said, ‘I’ve never seen more middle managers and bureaucrats worried about what the state auditor is going to think.’ I’m like, ‘Great, that means we’re doing our job.’ They should be worried.
“If they’re making decisions, (with taxpayer dollars), every once in awhile they should say, ‘Uh, are we going to get into trouble for that?’”
Sand referenced the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
“That assertiveness is a preventative measure to stop bad things from happening in the first place,” he said. “If we can stop somebody from misspending a certain amount of money, that is a much easier way to address that than it is after the fact.”
Sand, a Decorah native, was elected state auditor in 2018 and became the first Democrat to occupy the post in a half-century. He graduated from Brown University in 2005 and later the University of Iowa College Of Law. Sand served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Iowa Attorney General’s office from 2010 through 2017.
Sand is up for re-election in November and is being challenged by retired Republican state legislator Mary Ann Hanusa.
During his stop in Glenwood, Sand voiced his displeasure with the current state of partisan politics. He noted the state auditor’s office leadership team has a tri-party (Democrat, Republican, Independent) makeup. After, taking office, no employees were fired and he retained several Republican employees in his office who had supported his opponent in the 2018 election. He even promoted Marilyn Gaston, a longtime employee, to a deputy auditor position. She recently retired.
“She’s a Republican, she contributed to my opponent in 2018 – I promoted her and made her one of the chief deputies in the office,” he said. “An Independent who contributed to my opponent was promoted as well.
“I really don’t like partisanship and honestly, I really don’t like politics. It’s supposed to be about public service. It should be about governance, right? And problem solving. You get up. You figure out what the problem is. You figure out what the solution is and you try to get the solution going.”
Glenwood was one of many stops Sand made during a swing through southwest Iowa last week. He also had town hall meetings in Sidney, Red Oak, Council Bluffs, Missouri Valley, Harlan and Atlantic.
“These (town hall meetings) are helpful for us because I get information from people and that then helps us do our job better,” he said.