In a time torn by partisanship and contempt, there’s a lot of reasons that Rob Sand has a “political brand that transcends party lines.”
Rob does public service differently than politics, keeping an independent and a republican in senior leadership, and promoting, not firing, employees who made campaign contributions to his political opponent.
He defends the other party from unfair or untruthful attacks, while also criticizing his own party even when he doesn’t have to. No one in Iowa does this more than Rob- click on Truth & Anti-Partisanship to see more examples.
Rob cautions his own party’s activists to approach politics with kindness and persuasion, not partisan poison. That speech inspired cross-party support from across state lines. He also dares to have fun.
Of course, he’s also doing his job as Iowa’s State Auditor.
He moved his office from printed reports to electronic-only to save tens of thousands of dollars annually. He created a statewide government efficiency program called Public Innovations and Efficiencies (PIE). In just its first year, it had approximately 350 participating governments from all 99 counties. In its second year, it had over 500 participants, and an increase of over 25% in the number of efficiency practices they had in place. In the long run, the cumulative taxpayer savings the program assists in generating should total into the hundreds of millions of dollars. PIE is so effective that the Republican State Auditor of Mississippi has announced he is copying it.
He fought for improvements in Iowa’s Targeted Small Business program for women, minorities, the disabled, and veterans. He’s worked to show that solar energy can save millions for taxpayers while also fighting climate chaos.
Rob also has improved the inclusion of small towns and rural areas in the benefits of state government by creating the State Auditor’s “Statewide Work, Statewide Jobs” rule. In short, because the Office’s staff work in almost all counties every year, they are now allowed to live and work anywhere in the state they want, instead of being required to work out of offices in Ames, Des Moines, or Iowa City.
In Rob’s first term the office has identified more waste, fraud, and abuse than any other single term from any other State Auditor. Rob has also improved accountability for corrupt public officials by creating a position for law enforcement professionals to work on its investigations from Day 1, helping to ensure the investigations will work well in Court.
He took the University of Iowa to the Supreme Court (the most liberal public institution in the State of Iowa) and won a victory for transparency. He’s demanded that public employees who commit sexual harassment be held personally accountable for their deeds, to reduce losses to taxpayers and better discourage harassment. He had two groundbreaking separate investigations of Medicaid’s performance in Iowa. They show that not only do medical providers in Iowa believe the program has made the quality of care and access to care worse, but also that the private companies running the program are far more likely to illegally deny care to Iowans than when the program was publicly run, routinely violating the contracts and the laws Iowans are paying them to follow. Here’s a live TV interview on the larger one.
He also was a national accountability leader on the pandemic response. He issued what is believed to be the first COVID-related audit in the nation. He also had some of the only official findings of misspent COVID relief dollars by elected officials– demonstrating a willing to put himself in the crosshairs of powerful politicians in order to do his job. His review of Iowa’s prohibition on self-promotion with Taxpayer Funds criticized not only Iowa’s Republican Governor but also the Democratic-controlled Polk County Board of Supervisors, and he advocated for the law to be expanded to prevent additional politicians from promoting themselves in ads taxpayers pay for. Focused on seeking truth, he also issued an audit of Iowa’s COVID-19 data that found issues were caused by out-of-state companies and other issues, not wrongdoing by the Reynolds administration.
TIME AS ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Prior to being elected, Rob served as Iowa’s chief public corruption prosecutor and uncovered the largest lottery rigging scheme in American history. It uncovered seven fixed lottery tickets across five states with total face values of nearly $25 million. He also led the prosecution to a resolution between six States and two defendants. All told, three criminals entered guilty pleas to six different counts and agreed to repay every dollar they stole. The leader is now in prison for up to 25 years; the others served time or have a permanent felony conviction.
He spent much of his first 18 months investigating and prosecuting tax credit fraud related to Iowa Film Office Tax Credit Scandal. In addition, Rob prosecuted an investment advisor in northern Iowa who deceived victims into investing into the International Bank of Meekamui, the most recent name of a 20 year-old ponzi scheme originating in Papua New Guinea. It is believed to be the only criminal prosecution outside of PNG related to the scheme. The “advisor” went to prison and the “Bank” ceased worldwide operations entirely as the case drew near to trial.
Rob also prosecuted elected and appointed public officials and employees, both Republicans and Democrats. He successfully prosecuted attorneys, investment advisors, embezzlers, and those who exploit the elderly. Rob additionally prosecuted a wide range of other crimes, including sexual abuse, robbery, murder, attempted murder, and perjury. He worked to commit to secure facilities nearly twenty sexually violent predators after the end of their prison terms, ending their cycle of victimization.
Rob Sand was born and raised in Decorah, Iowa, where his first job was catching chickens. He found a passion for public service in high school, when he worked for two years to build a public skatepark. He graduated from Decorah High School in 2001.
After high school, Rob attended and graduated from Brown University. There, he built a reputation for being able to work productively with individuals of all political persuasions. He built a class on political diversity that led to the creation of an institute for productive political discourse that still thrives today. He also published or presented research in three areas and taught at a reading camp for children. While there, Rob was named a Harry S Truman Scholar.
After college, Rob chose to return to Iowa to attend Iowa Law School on a full merit scholarship. There, he also was the first student ever to be both a President of the Iowa Student Bar Association and an Editor-in-Chief of a law journal. He also led a student volunteer effort to commit over 1,000 hours of volunteer labor to cleaning and rebuilding Cedar Rapids after the 2008 floods. Before graduating he was awarded the Hancher-Finkbine Medallion, the University of Iowa’s highest award.
Rob enjoys hunting (especially bowhunting), fishing, biking, and time with his family. In fact, the Iowa Bowhunters’ Association certified him as an “Expert Bowhunter.”
Rob can be reached at email@example.com, or through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @robsandia.