DES MOINES – Secretary of State Matt Schultz weathered a storm of questions from Democratic legislators, but his answers did little to satisfy his critics.
Schultz sought to convince the Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee Feb. 14 that his office has learned from an election night computer crash that delayed results, creating what one lawmaker called a “national embarrassment.”
“We did run into a blip with election night reporting. That won’t happen again,” Schultz said.
Not everyone shared his confidence. Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls, questioned the technology fixes Schultz talked about as well as the first-term Republican’s ability to manage the office.
“I left today with more questions than I got answers,” Danielson said.
Schultz didn’t shy from questions during the hour-long session.
“Quite frankly, I’d like to address the elephant in the room right away,” Schultz said before discussing the use of Help America Vote Act funds to pay for a Division of Criminal Investigation agent to look at possible cases of voter fraud.
Rep. Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines, wanted to go elephant hunting. He wondered if simply by questioning people about their voting eligibility “you scared them off and they didn’t vote.”
Schultz assured him the investigation didn’t go after people who were eligible to vote. He and Hunter had a brief did to, did not exchange before Chairman Rep. Ralph Watts, R-Adel, told Hunter to move on.
After the meeting, Danielson suggested it’s time for Schultz to call a time out to get help managing the office.
“We may have a problem with the capacity of his office to be able to manage all of these things at the same time,” Danielson said. “There has been enough failure internally that he may need some help.”
Schultz accepted full responsibility for his office and said he plans to keep moving forward.“At the end of the day, people will judge me, but I think the people of Iowa have confidence in our staff and me and we’ll continue to do the job,” he said.