DES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds says she hasn’t made a final decision on a bill to limit State Auditor Rob Sand’s access to some information, but Reynolds says Sand — the lone Democrat in statewide office — has gone too far in some of his investigations.
“The constitution states that there shall be an Auditor of State and it’s the legislature’s responsibility to set what those duties are,” Reynolds said during a recent appearance on Iowa Press on Iowa PBS. “This doesn’t limit his access to information, but it does say that just information that he’s curious about, he doesn’t have access to that.”
Reynolds did not cite specific examples of when she thinks Sand, who has been state auditor since 2019, has gone too far in seeking information for audits and investigations. The bill would prohibit the auditor from accessing things a person would expect to be kept private, like medical records or police reports.
Sand said if the bill is signed into law, he’ll let the public know whenever state officials refuse to turn over records — and Sand said it will make Iowans wonder what they’re hiding. Reynolds said there’s an arbitration process in the bill that would let three people appointed by her, by Sand and by the agency involved decide if records should be turned over.
“The auditor’s office is part of the executive branch,” Reynolds said, “and I think Iowans expect the executive branch to be able to work things out.”
The bill would also prevent the auditor’s office from seeking a court order to get access to documents from another statewide officeholder, like the governor, or a state agency. Sand said the bill’s arbitration process gives the governor’s office the final word on access to information because it prevents the courts from determining if any denials are justified. Reynolds points to the use of arbitration in the private sector.
“I think it’s ridiculous, you know, if my agencies have some conflict we bring them in, we set them down and we ask them to work it out and for the first place to go or to go to the courts to have executive branch agencies competing against each other, the taxpayers have to pay for it twice,” Reynolds said, “and I just don’t think it’s unreasonable that we can’t come to some resolution through the arbitration process.”
Reynolds has 30 days after the legislature adjourns to sign or veto bills. The 2023 legislature adjourned on May 4.