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Sand and Reynolds spar over financing of ‘Step Up’ public service ads

DES MOINES — State Auditor Rob Sand, a Democrat, and Republican Governor Kim Reynolds are sparring over a government-funded ad that ran on radio, TV and the internet last November. It urged Iowans to wear a mask and take other steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“Let’s step up and stop the spread together,” Reynolds said at the conclusion of 60-second message.

The auditor says the governor violated a state law she approved in 2018 that forbids governors from using public money on broadcast, newspaper and internet ads that include her name, likeness or voice. The governor says under state law, she had the authority to use emergency powers during a public health emergency to address Iowans at the height of the pandemic. Reynolds recruited others, like former Governor Tom Vilsack and former Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable, to appear in the ad with her.

“Covid-19 isn’t stronger than Iowans resolve to overcome it,” Reynolds said in the ad.

The governor’s chief of staIowa law clearly gives Iowa governors the authority to address Iowans in a public service announcement during a disaster emergency. Sand says Reynolds used about half a million dollars in federal pandemic relief money on the public service campaign and about 30% of that went to pay for running the ads on radio, TV, Facebook and other internet sites.

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