Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz is in hot water even with a fellow Republican, the state auditor, who sent him a letter telling him that he must repay the $140,000 in federal funds he used in the investigation that found a whopping 16 cases of voter fraud in that state (out of more than 1.2 million votes cast).
In the aftermath of the contested 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the bipartisanHelp America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) to provide federal money to make it easier for Americans to exercise their right to vote and for local governments to ensure smooth elections. But according to the office of Iowa State Auditor Mary Mosiman (R), a $140,000 voter fraud investigation launched by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) may be improperly using those federal funds on his probe to ferret out largely non-existent voter fraud.
In a letter to Schultz, Chief Deputy State Auditor Warren Jenkins (a Republican and the top deputy to Mosiman) advised that the Secretary of State should create a plan to repay the federal government for the costs of his criminal investigation into voter fraud. While not taking a position on whether his use of HAVA funds for this purpose was illegal, Jenkins lists the many things the funds can be legally used for under the law — criminal investigations is not among them.
Schultz made it quite clear why he’s pursuing voter fraud case in order to justify new voter suppression legislation:
SCHULTZ: There are a whole lot of issues that we care about, abortion, gay marriage, a whole lot of social issues that we care deeply about. But you have to start caring about voter ID and election integrity as well, because if you don’t have that, you’ll never be able to make a difference in any other issue you care about. Never. Because they will cheat!
Except his investigation did not identify anything remotely like cheating to steal an election. Of those 16 cases, five were dismissed. Another five ended in guilty pleas, three of which involved ex-felons who registered to vote thinking that their voting rights were automatically restored when their sentence was served (as they should be — and as they were until 2011, when Gov. Terry Branstad issued an executive order requiring them to submit an application to have their rights restored, including a credit report). There was not a single one of those 16 cases that involved voter impersonation, the only thing that voter ID laws would help prevent.