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April 21, 2014

State auditor investigating secret settlements

DES MOINES — Iowa Auditor Mary Mosiman said Monday she is conducting an audit of confidential, secret employee settlements that have troubled Gov. Terry Branstad's administration for more than a month.

State Sen. Jack Hatch, a Democrat who's running for governor, asked Mosiman on April 8 for an audit.

Mosiman responded in a letter, saying she began to review the settlement agreements the day after her office learned of them in March. She also said her office is working to identify anything improper or inappropriate, and she'll issue a public report when the investigation ends.

"In addition, we will certainly pursue necessary assistance from appropriate sources outside of state government if we cannot find the resources we believe are necessary within state government," she wrote.

Hatch told reporters Monday that Mosiman's response to him was appropriate.

He is also calling for the Legislature to approve funds for a broader independent audit, which he says will ensure politics is removed from the process. Mosiman, a Republican, was appointed by Branstad last year to fill a vacancy created when former Auditor David Vaudt resigned to take a job outside state government.

"I think we all want to have this investigation happen so there are as few challenges as possible," Hatch said. "That's very difficult in an election year. It's going to be very difficult to separate politics from the process, but as a candidate for governor I want to make sure we get to the bottom of these scandals and secondly, it's viewed as nonpartisan."

Hatch also supports the Senate leadership's plan to introduce a resolution authorizing the chamber's oversight committee to issue subpoenas and place witnesses under oath. It's likely to be introduced before the Legislature adjourns, he said.

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