Last fall, the Associated Press published an article about the spending practices of the Iowa Communities Assurance Pool, a risk pool that insures local governments in the state.
The AP's initial reports told about how the organization was spending thousands of dollars holding public meetings in out-of-the-way places like Florida and off the coast of Lake Michigan.
The reports caught the attention of State Auditor Rob Sand, who sought to investigate.
Unfortunately, ICAP, as it is known, is throwing up roadblocks. It offered up some documents but not others. And about a week ago, it filed a petition with the district court in Polk County claiming Sand is overstepping his authority and that ICAP is not a 'governmental subdivision' subject to his examination.
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In response, Sand said he is looking forward to "fighting for taxpayers' right to know what is happening with their money."
To us, this is the key point. The Iowa Communities Assurance Pool is a member-owned organization — and its members are public bodies funded by taxpayer dollars. The insurance pool is so pervasively governmental that nearly 800 public entities belong to it, including the City of Bettendorf.
Three-quarters of the counties are members (though not Scott County).
These public bodies pay a lot of money to ICAP to perform an important government function. We can't understand how it could logically escape oversight by the state auditor, which conducts audits of state and local governments.
To be clear, this is not an insurance company; in fact, the Iowa law that allowed its creation didn't subject the pool to state insurance regulation precisely because the participants are public entities.
We're not sure where this will go in the courts. Frankly, we think the elected officials who run the public bodies that make up this organization ought to step in and have the courage to subject ICAP's expenditures to the auditor's scrutiny. He examines how taxpayer money is spent on other government functions; why not this one?