In the aftermath of the contested 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the bipartisan Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) to provide federal money to make it easier for Americans to exercise their right to vote and for local governments to ensure smooth elections. But according to the office of Iowa State Auditor Mary Mosiman (R), a $140,000 voter fraud investigation launched by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R) may be improperly using those federal funds on his probe to ferret out largely non-existent voter fraud.
In a letter to Schultz, Chief Deputy State Auditor Warren Jenkins (a Republican and the top deputy to Mosiman) advised that the Secretary of State should create a plan to repay the federal government for the costs of his criminal investigation into voter fraud. While not taking a position on whether his use of HAVA funds for this purpose was illegal, Jenkins lists the many things the funds can be legally used for under the law — criminal investigations is not among them.
Schultz, in response, said that the use of HAVA funds for his investigation was “proper” as it has “helped the administration of federal elections in Iowa by helping ensure the integrity of votes cast by Iowans.”
In an April speech, Schultz made clear that his so-called voter integrity efforts are aimed at electing conservative Republicans. Without evidence, he warned:
SCHULTZ: There are a whole lot of issues that we care about, abortion, gay marriage, a whole lot of social issues that we care deeply about. But you have to start caring about voter ID and election integrity as well, because if you don’t have that, you’ll never be able to make a difference in any other issue you care about. Never. Because they will cheat!
Since his election in 2010, Schultz has made voter suppression his priority. Evoking the Soviet Union, he ran on a “trust but verify” slogan, warning that “when people commit voter fraud our very freedom is threatened,” so Iowa needed “a system that makes it easy to vote and nearly impossible to cheat.” Despite a lack of documented voter fraud in Iowa and nationally, Schultz proposed a three-point plan consisting of requiring strict photo ID requirements for all voters, forcing all citizens taking advantage of same-day voter registration to cast a provisional ballot, and establishing a “crime stoppers hotline for voter fraud.” His attempts to launch a massive purge of the voter rolls has been blocked by a federal court.