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Gov. Reynolds' use of CARES Act money for non-pandemic expenses 'not allowable', State Auditor says

Nearly $500,000 of CARES Act funding has been spent on staff salaries, according to the State Auditor's Office.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds has been advised to stop using CARES Act dollars for things unrelated to the pandemic, the Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand announced in a report Monday. 

Sand's office says Reynolds used approximately $21 million designated for pandemic relief to fund a new software system for the state government, which Auditor Rob Sand and the Federal Treasury Department's Inspector General say is "not allowable."

Reynolds has since been ordered to return that money to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Sand has also recommended the governor rethink her decision to use CARES Act money to pay her staff's salaries, as it could lead to required repayments if an insufficient amount of work specifically related to the pandemic is done.  

Nearly $500,000 has been spent on staff salaries, according to the State Auditor's Office.

The report states that money can be used to cover a portion of staff salaries, but only if the work done directly related to the pandemic is tracked and supported with the appropriate documentation.

The report also says whether those conditions are met will be judged in hindsight when the timekeeping records and other documentation is audited. If they're not, that money may need to be repaid back to the federal government, which would result in a loss for Iowa taxpayers.

Reynolds has since been advised to reallocate that money to uses that automatically qualify for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF): such as getting more PPE, increasing capacity for testing.

Under the CARES Act, any money out of the CRF that goes anywhere unrelated to pandemic relief has to be repaid in full to the federal government.  

All CRF money must be spent by the end of the 2020 calendar year, or the money will be reclaimed.

Local 5 has reached out to Gov. Reynolds' office for comment, but no response has been received as of Monday evening.

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