Democrat Rob Sand to seek reelection as Iowa state auditor, won’t run for governor in 2022

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By Stephen Gruber-Miller, Des Moines Register

Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand is running for reelection, he said Tuesday, closing off the possibility of running for governor next year.

“I’m asking you for your support in getting elected to a second term as state auditor,” he said in a video he filmed while walking his dog, a Bernedoodle named Pow, which he posted to Twitter.

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Sand, a Democrat, will seek a second term in the office he won in 2018, when he flipped the office from Republican control.

The 39-year-old had considered running for governor and is one of the last high-profile officials to make a decision about his 2022 plans. State Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo, and business owner and former Iowa secretary of state candidate Deidre DeJear are seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, while U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne is seeking reelection in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to seek reelection, although she has not formally announced her plans.

In his video, Sand pointed to his efforts during his first term to save taxpayer money and to work with Democrats and Republicans in the auditor’s office.

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“Instead of firing people who made campaign contributions to my opponent’s campaign that work in the state auditor’s office, I kept them and I promoted some of them to senior positions,” Sand said. “I’ve got a Democrat, an independent and a Republican in senior positions in the office. I think that’s the way it ought to be done.”

Sand has gotten into high-profile fights with Reynolds this year. He issued a report in June alleging Reynolds broke Iowa’s law against self-promotion by appearing in a taxpayer-funded video to promote mask wearing. An Iowa ethics board later found Reynolds did not break the law.

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In November, Sand said Reynolds improperly used nearly $450,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to pay salaries for 21 staff members for three months last year. Reynolds has defended using the funds, saying her staff was focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an audit of Iowa’s Medicaid program, Sand found that when the private companies hired to run the program deny payment for health services, they are much more likely to have those denials overturned on appeal than when the state ran the program — a trend he said showed the companies are trying to withhold care.

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No Republicans have announced campaigns to challenge Sand for the auditor job. But Republican Party of Iowa Chair Jeff Kaufmann criticized Sand in a statement Tuesday, saying Sand has used his office to go after his political enemies.

“Iowans want a state auditor who is serious, focused on ensuring their tax dollars are spent properly and being a watchdog over their pocketbooks,” Kaufmann said. “Rob Sand only cares about how many times his cheap and misleading attacks are retweeted.”

Sand was not the only statewide elected official in Iowa to announce a campaign for reelection on Tuesday. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said in a Twitter post he would seek a second term. Naig, a Republican, was elected in 2018.

“Harvest is wrapping up and Iowa farmers know that when one job is done, it’s time to focus on the next,” Naig wrote in the tweet. “That’s why I’m excited to announce my campaign for 2022!”

No Democrats have announced campaigns to challenge Naig next year.

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

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