i9 Fact Checker: Ad argues candidate for State Auditor was sued for debts

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 6:51 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A new political ad, which is airing on TV9, argues taxpayers can’t trust the Republican candidate for State Auditor Todd Halbur with taxpayer dollars. It argues he made bookkeeping errors along with being sued for missing bill payments.

Source: Rob Sand for Iowa

According to documents from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, this is Rob Sand’s campaign to get reelected as state auditor.

Claim #1: Halbur had repeated accounting errors as Comptroller at the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division

Analysis: This stems from a wrongful termination lawsuit Todd Halbur filed after he was let go as comptroller of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. In his lawsuit, Halbur said he was a comptroller from April 2015 to July 2018 in the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, which governs alcohol sales in Iowa. Halbur’s lawsuit claims he was demoted and later fired for raising questions about price markups and payments made with no-bid contracts.

As part of his lawsuit, Halbur described his responsibilities as planning, directing and overseeing all accounting for the division’s $300 Million operation, as well as advising the Administrator on cash management, inventory control and adjustments. Halbur also said he was required to analyze trends in financial reports as well.

During Halbur’s tenure, three different audits from the Iowa State Auditor’s Office identified different issues and recommendations to improve the department’s bookkeeping. That included two before Rob Sand was Auditor, who Halbur is now seeking to unseat. Those recommendations include inventory not being reported correctly, discrepancies in capital assets by more than $1 Million and prepaid expenses underreported by $1,422,623. Those audits specifically listed the comptroller as responsible for resolving some of the issues, among other staff members.

Halbur would eventually win $1 Million for being fired after reporting the agency was breaking state law by selling alcohol at a higher price than allowed and circumventing the state’s competitive bidding process.

Conclusion: The state audits and Halbur’s lawsuits paint a picture of an administrative mess in the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division at the time. And the State audits name other staff besides just the comptroller for the issues in the agency’s finances. But Halbur was also named as responsible and that’s why this gets a B.

Claim #2: Halbur was sued repeatedly for unpaid debts

Analysis: The campaign said it is referring to different court cases involving Todd Halbur being sued for not paying debts and different bills. A TV9 analysis of court records shows around nine cases involved unpaid bills, including credit cards.

These cases range from 2011 to 2015 and had multiple guilty verdicts. The largest was about 26,000 plus interest in 2014.

Conclusion: Halbur was sued and found guilty for unpaid debts. This claim gets an A.