- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz told lawmakers Tuesday that he is seeking state funding to continue a voter fraud investigation, but it is not clear whether legislators will back the request.

Schultz, a Republican, appeared before a Senate appropriations subcommittee, where he was questioned about using federal grant money for a two-year investigation into voter fraud in Iowa. The testimony came a day after he was grilled by senators over why three people had their ballots wrongfully thrown out in the 2012 general election.

Schultz said he expects to spend about $240,000 on the investigation using federal dollars from the Help America Vote Act, which primarily funds education about voting procedures and other efforts to promote voting. His office has requested $140,000 from the state general fund for the upcoming fiscal year to continue the effort.

The federal spending has been closely scrutinized. A review last year by state auditors concluded that Schultz should be prepared to repay the funds if the federal government concludes it’s not a proper use of the money.

But Schultz noted Tuesday that it is not clear there will be any further federal review of the expenditures, which he defended as appropriate. He also noted that a dispute over the use of HAVA funds under the former governor was resolved at no cost to the state.

Schultz, who has announced he will run for U.S. Rep. Tom Latham’s House seat in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, said he soon will provide lawmakers with a report on the investigation. To date, five people have pleaded guilty to voter fraud.

“We anticipate we’re going to show there’s a problem and this problem may continue,” Schultz said.

Sen. Liz Mathis, D- Robins, says she would need to see more evidence of fraud to support the funding request.

“It needs to be something larger than five (guilty pleas),” she said.

Schultz came before another panel of lawmakers Monday to discuss how three Cerro Gordo County voters had their ballots thrown out in the 2012 presidential election after their names appeared on a database of felons ineligible to vote.

An investigation later proved the votes should have been counted. The three voters were eligible to cast ballots because two had their rights restored and the third had never been convicted of a felony.

Schultz says the problem is systemic and is recommending a task force study the issue.

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