Auditor responds to Sen. Reichman's comments


Dear Editor

When a politician tries to convince you that someone in the other party is an extremist because they took a position that one of the politician’s own party leaders agrees with, check your wallet and check your job to make sure they are still there.
On January 30, I stood up for Iowa taxpayers and farmers against powerful interests by stating I agreed with Terry Branstad, despite he and I belonging to different parties: competition in the fertilizer industry is good, and protecting competition will work against the price hikes that we are all suffering from. Specifically, I sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division saying they should deny Koch Industries’ attempt to buy the OCI Iowa Nitrogen Fertilizer Plant in Wever for those reasons.
I’m worried also that jobs could disappear. It isn’t uncommon for the biggest player in an industry to buy something from its competition and shut it down, because if you decrease supply, prices go up. Will Koch Industries, the biggest player in the industry, do that with the OCI plant? Why take the risk: deny the sale. All those jobs could be lost.
Now, I thought by stating I was in agreement with folks in the opposite party, namely former Governor Terry Branstad, would prevent others from turning a simple issue into the “partisan politics” that most of us are so tired of. I guess I was that foolish because I grew up in Decorah, Iowa, which is about as far away from Des Moines as Lee County is. I was raised with a healthy skepticism of political partisanship. It’s one of the things I hate about politics and why I stand up for people in the other party when they’re right—even as I called out people in my own party for wrongdoing. Neither party has a monopoly on good ideas, and a broken clock is right at least twice a day. That’s part of why when you first elected me State Auditor, I named as the two most senior deputies in the office two people who didn’t belong to my political party and in fact had both contributed to my political opponent. I’ve also regularly defended Governor Reynolds when it was the right thing to do. Some want to scream right versus left to get you angry; I want to talk right versus wrong to get problems fixed.
So State Senator Jeff Reichman proved my hopes too high when he attacked me personally for taking that stand. This is after last year, when he voted to gut our Office’s ability to find misspent tax dollars. He even celebrated that vote to reduce oversight of government by noting that I couldn’t “legally” do my job. Sometimes you just have to laugh at it all.
I’ve invited Senator Reichman to both of my annual Lee County townhalls every year, but he’s never come. So, not knowing him well, I can’t say what caused his angry attacks. It could be because Koch Industries’ owners are among the biggest donors to his party. Maybe that’s why they are now turning against the position that former Republican Governor Terry Branstad and I share. Or it could be that some politicians instinctively feel the temptation to oppose anything someone in the other party says or does.
Either way, I’d like to remind us all of President Lincoln’s quote: “I don’t like that man, I must get to know him better.” We make a point of inviting every local elected official and state legislator to our official town hall meetings because our shared constituents sent all of us to work for them, together. Senator Reichman, you are still invited. With tax dollars, prices, and jobs at stake, the issues are too important to just sit and sling mud. I hope you’ll join me next time I’m in town.

Rob Sand,
Iowa State Auditor

Fort Madison, Pen City Current, Letter to the Editor, Rob Sand, Jeff Reichman, opinion, submission,


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here