Thursday Afternoon News, October 9
Former Monona County Auditor Could Face Additional Charges
ONAWA, Iowa (AP) - A former Iowa county auditor convicted of a drug charge last year has been accused of embezzling money through credit card purchases.
State Auditor Mary Mosiman says in a report released Thursday that 29-year-old Brooke Kuhlmann used a Monona County-issued credit card to make more than $7,000 in improper charges. They included 10 purchases of $100 debit cards from Wal-Mart and more than $700 from the WinnaVegas casino in Sloan.
Kuhlmann pleaded guilty in late December to possession of a controlled substance, after authorities said she bought methamphetamine from an undercover Iowa State Patrol officer in July 2013.
Kuhlmann resigned in December. Officials taking over her duties contacted the state auditor's office after identifying unusual credit card statements.
The report has been sent to local and state law enforcement agencies.
University Of Iowa Employees Doubt Consultant's Plan Will Save Much Money
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - University of Iowa employees say they fear that a consultant's cost-cutting plans will have a negative impact on the institution and not save as much as projected.
Employees also told representatives of Deloitte Consulting during a forum Thursday that the plans were too vague to be properly evaluated by the Iowa Board of Regents.
Deloitte is recommending that Iowa's three public universities restructure their human resources, information technology and finance staffs. The consultant says the schools cut could up to 250 jobs through attrition and retirements in coming years, saving tens of millions of dollars.
Deloitte is also recommending saving money by using fewer desktop computers and printers, in favor of thin-client machines and network printers.
The regents are expected to vote next month on which plans to implement.
Braley Tries To Curb Women's Support Away From Ernst
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - With just weeks left in a tight Senate race that he started with an advantage, Democrat Bruce Braley is trying to raise concerns among women voters about his Republican opponent, Joni Ernst, and take some of the sheen off the farm-raised, military veteran who rose from relative obscurity to GOP stardom during the campaign.
The four-term congressman and Democratic supporters are running ads and holding events questioning Ernst's position on abortion rights. He is also attacking Ernst on the minimum wage, another issue the campaign thinks resonates with female voters.
Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress or as governor. Ernst has stressed her background as a mother and female veteran as she has made her case to Iowa voters.
Iowa Could See Modest Growth In Tax Revenues
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A panel of state budget experts predicts modest growth in Iowa's tax revenue during the current fiscal year.
The Revenue Estimating Conference met Thursday to project state revenue. The three-member panel includes the governor's top budget adviser, the financial adviser to the Legislature and an independent member, Mason City economist David Underwood.
The group predicts net state revenue - made up of taxes and other sources - will come in at just over $6.7 billion in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. That represents a 6.7 percent increase over the previous year and the growth is expected to continue.
The panel will meet again in December to set the revenue projection that Gov. Terry Branstad must use to craft his next budget.
Veteran's Home Investigation
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Five employees at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown were fired earlier this year after a sexual harassment investigation.
A spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad confirmed the terminations Thursday but declined to offer details, calling it a personnel matter. The firings were first reported by the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
The investigation became public because several fired workers had hearings related to their eligibility for unemployment benefits. Decisions in those cases were made public.
Documents say the investigation was into a complaint of sexual harassment made against a food service worker.
A call to the home's Commandant Jodi Tymeson was not immediately returned. Branstad expressed support for Tymeson's leadership on Thursday.
More than 600 veterans and their spouses live in nursing home and assisted living facilities at the Iowa Veterans Home.
Lottery Authorities Still Trying To Find Mysterious Winner
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities trying to answer the longtime question of who bought an unclaimed multimillion-dollar lottery ticket in Iowa in 2010 have released video of the mystery person in the hopes of finally identifying him.
The video released Thursday by the state Division of Criminal Investigation shows a hooded man at a Des Moines gas station buying a Hot Lotto ticket that later won a $14.3 million prize.
A New York lawyer in 2011 waited minutes before the one-year deadline to try to claim the ticket. He signed it on behalf of a newly created trust and said he didn't know the winner's name.
Lottery officials refused to pay the jackpot and the lawyer withdrew the claim. Since then, officials have been trying to find the mystery man.