Cerro Gordo supervisors on 2-to-1 vote approve investigation of County Auditor’s office for improper use of postage meter

(Story first published at 2:00 PM Monday, updated 5:00 AM on Tuesday)

MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors on a two-to-one vote Monday afternoon approved a further investigation of the County Auditor’s office for alleged illegal use of a postage meter for political purposes.

Supervisor Casey Callanan, a Republican from Clear Lake, says County Auditor Adam Wedmore, a Democrat from Rockwell, allegedly used the county postage meter after hours on a weekend for a political fundraising mailer regarding his re-election campaign. Callanan says they notified the county’s outside auditor who advised that the county was required by Iowa law to notify the state auditor’s office.

He says their office could not take any further action unless the majority of the board approved such actions.  “Essentially what I’d like to do is I would like to, assuming any of my colleagues would join me, have staff engage in the following week to see what options the state auditor has in regards to what other extracurricular activities may or may not be going on down at the Auditor’s office. Again, assuming one or both, but essentially they said unless the majority of board would make this inquiry, they would not be able to help us out.”

Callanan says the residents of the county deserve to know what’s going on in the Auditor’s office.   “At the end of the day, I make no apologies for it. Probably my most important job as an elected official is my fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of Cerro Gordo County. I take it very seriously and I think this matter should be taken very seriously, and I want to know if there’s anything else going on down there.”

Democrat Lori Meacham Ginapp of Plymouth went along with Callanan in approving the further investigation, with Republican Chris Watts of Mason City voting against.

Callanan and Watts had an exchange of comments after the vote. Callanan started by saying, “I’m quite frankly astonished that this board wouldn’t support this inquiry unanimously, but that’s neither here nor there.” Watts replied, “My comment would be I’m just following our county attorney and our sheriff’s recommendation that no discussion was had until I heard further.” Callanan responded, “That was in a criminal manner. That has nothing to do with the state auditor. Nothing to do, but now that you brought it up.” Watts said all he was doing was following directions, which Callanan said he obviously did not understand, which Watts said he must not have. Watts was offered to re-cast his vote in the manner but refused.”

In other business, the supervisors approved the recommendations of the county’s Compensation Board made in late December to boost the salaries of the county’s elected officials by three percent, with a six-percent increase for Sheriff Kevin Pals due to the “Back the Blue” law passed by the legislature in 2021. It mandates county sheriff pay is at a rate comparable to police chiefs in cities of similar population to the respective counties as well as comparable to State Patrol and Division of Criminal Investigation professional administrators and command officers. The supervisors for the eighth straight year agreed to freeze their own pay while accepting the other recommendations.