DES MOINES — Auditor’s races typically do not excite voters.
But the race in 2018 to become Iowa’s auditor could draw more interest than in the past.
The campaign features an incumbent — and elected statewide officials historically fare well in Iowa elections — against a well-funded challenger with some high-profile resume entries.
Mary Mosiman, a Republican from Ames, has held the office since 2013, when she was appointed to the position. Mosiman won her first election in 2014 by 13 percentage points, becoming the first woman to be elected Iowa state auditor.
An accountant by trade, Mosiman says her office has published more than 100 fraud reports noting more than $13 million in waste, fraud and abuse. People who have heard Mosiman speak at campaign events have become familiar with her unofficial office slogan, “In God we trust. Everyone else we audit.”
Rob Sand, the Democratic challenger, comes to the race via the state attorney general’s office. Sand, an attorney from Des Moines, was named an assistant state attorney general in 2010 and helped investigate and prosecute two of the state’s biggest scandals: the movie tax credit program and a lottery-fixing attempt.
Libertarian Fred Perryman, a sales manager from Cedar Falls, also is running. In 2016, the Libertarian Party earned enough voter support in Iowa to become a recognized party on the ballot.
Mosiman has extensive experience as an auditor. In 2000, she was elected Story County auditor, a position that required her to manage the county’s budget. She served for 10 years before taking a position as a deputy secretary of state in the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.
She has been highlighting that experience in the early stages of this year’s campaign, noting she is the only certified accountant in the race. During the Republican Party of Iowa’s state convention in June, she said voters should keep an accountant in the state auditor’s chair.
“It’s an honor and privilege to serve the people of Iowa through government finance,” Mosiman said. “I also serve by aggressively investigating fraud in government.”
Sand delighted Democrats at their state convention in June. He gave just a 12-second speech that concluded with, “I love being efficient.”
In addition to efficiency, Sand says he wants to bring an investigative focus to the auditor’s office. He helped investigate abuse of the state tax credit for movie projects, an investigation that found movie production companies inflated expenses and used taxpayer-funded credits improperly. It resulted in the end of the program and the resignation of the state’s economic development director.
Sand also led the investigation into an attempt to fix a five-state lottery program. That uncovered seven fixed tickets valued at nearly $25 million and the prosecution of three individuals, including one who was sentenced for up to 25 years in prison.
Sand’s campaign has caught fire on the fundraising trail. He has raised nearly $400,000, as of the last report filed before the June primary election.
By contrast, Mosiman raised just more than $167,000 for her 2014 campaign. She has raised roughly $94,000 for her reelection campaign so far.
Sand says he has Republican donors in his base.
“In this time of division it has been so positive to see many Republicans join our campaign all across the state in agreement that more can be done for Iowans by this office,” Sand said.
Mosiman at the Republican convention noted that 40 percent of Sands’ donations are from outside Iowa. Sand has drawn five-figure donation totals from the nation’s capital, New York state, California and Illinois.
While the state auditor’s work typically flies under the radar, that could change in the coming months, possibly making the campaign more relatable for voters. Mosiman has agreed to examine how Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration is calculating savings by shifting management of the state’s $5 billion Medicaid program to private health care companies.
The state’s Medicaid director has said the state is saving roughly $140 million per year by contracting with the private companies, but has not detailed how those savings were calculated. That number is nearly triple what the department previously said it was saving through privatized management.
Mosiman said in early June she would review the program costs and publish any findings.
That review could find its way onto the campaign trail as Mosiman, Sand and Perryman vie to continue the state auditor’s work in 2019.