DES MOINES, Iowa — State Auditor Rob Sand held a press conference on Thursday to denounce a bill that would restrict his office's ability to conduct audits.
Senate File 478 passed through the Iowa Senate on Tuesday, 33-16.
The bill would severely limit what information the auditor and his office would have access to during an audit.
"This is the single most pro-corruption bill that has ever come out of the Iowa legislature," Sand said.
If enacted, Senate File 478 would prevent the state auditor from accessing a number of records, including:
- Iowan's income tax returns
- Criminal files from police
- Personal information of students
- Hospital or medical records
- Peace officers' investigative reports
There's also a part in the bill that acts as a catch-all, limiting access to any information someone would expect be kept private.
"What good is an audit if you can't look where you want to look?" Sand said. "If someone you're auditing just gets to decide, 'well, we don't want you to look over there', and you say, 'Okay, we'll run along and look at other things instead,' are you worth anything? Is your audit worth anything? No."
The bill also creates more hoops for the auditor to jump through, should he need access to restricted information.
In a statement, John Geragosian, president of the National State Auditors Association, expressed his organization's concerns about the bill.
His statement reads in part:
"This bill will negatively impact Auditor Sand's ability to independently and sufficiently perform his audit work. State auditors should have unfettered access to confidential records to ensure that state agencies are following their policies and procedures and state and federal law. This is also necessary to ensure that we prevent waste, fraud, and abuse of state programs and funds. State auditors also have the immense responsibility to guard against disclosure of any confidential information. It is a responsibility we take seriously."