State Auditor Mosiman Won’t Comment on News Trump Used Charity Funds to Pay for Lawsuit Settlements

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Last Monday at the Story County GOP’s annual Judge Joseph Story Dinner fundraiser, State Auditor Mary Mosiman encouraged local Republicans to embrace Donald Trump and his outsider qualities.

“As a political party, we have the most unique and distinctive candidate that could be on the presidential ticket,” said Mosiman, who’s also a former Story County auditor, according to the Ames Tribune. “We nominated a non-politician to be our nominee, which, in the GOP, is unheard of.”

On Tuesday, Mosiman’s office released an audit (embedded below) revealing that Roger McEowen, the former director of Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, improperly funnelled over $300,000 in public funds to himself and his private business, which performed some of the same services as the ISU center, from April 2009 to December of last year. Conflict-of-interest documents McEowen submitted were deemed insufficient, and in January he announced his resignation. Although no criminal charges have been filed so far, McEowen may have violated the law.

That same day, the Washington Post’s David Farenthold broke the news that Trump, in multiple instances over the course of several years, funnelled $258,000 from his charity to settle lawsuits involving his for-profit businesses, in apparent violation of a law prohibiting nonprofit heads from using their organization’s funds to benefit themselves or their other businesses.

That made the Informer curious: Did Mosiman see parallels between McEowen’s actions as described in her office’s audit and Trump’s, and had this changed her position on endorsing the GOP presidential nominee? If Trump were a public official in Iowa subject to one of her audits, what implications might there be regarding his conduct?

But Mosiman did not respond to our requests for comment. When the Informer called her office, a secretary picked up but refused to transfer the call to her extension because an unanswered email we’d sent earlier in the day to Mosiman’s state email account was “of a political nature.” (Public officeholders cannot make statements using state resources that support or oppose candidates, although they could respond to messages saying as much and providing alternative contact information, according to Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board director Megan Tooker.)

We were instead directed to a two-year-old campaign website with another email address and a cell phone number and left multiple requests for comment with both but received no response.

If Mosiman is still supporting Trump, her decision would be in line with other prominent Iowa Republicans, including Gov. Terry Branstad, who have largely ignored the myriad controversies swirling around their party’s nominee even as many leading Republicans elsewhere have said they will not vote for him.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.