“For over a year, we have repeatedly raised questions about the lack of oversight of federal grant funds disbursed by the Election Assistance Commission. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office validates those concerns. As such, we remain deeply concerned about your office’s efforts to ensure appropriate oversight,” wrote the Republican lawmakers.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress made an additional appropriation in the CARES Act of $400 million in grant funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the pandemic for the 2020 federal election cycle. According to GAO, the EAC has only reported on $326 million of those grant funds, and of those reported, GAO found issues with nearly 20 percent of the reporting. The GAO also found the EAC conducted minimal oversight of state reporting, potentially enabling significant waste, fraud, and abuse by numerous states. Additionally, the report confirms concerns the Republican lawmakers previously expressed about a highly questionable and likely unlawful $35 million contract provided by then-California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to SKD Knickerbocker, Joe Biden’s main election campaign advisory firm, to contact voters.
“In a February 26, 2021, letter, former Inspector General Layfield stated that the contract between the California Secretary of State and SKD Knickerbocker presented a risk of improper use that required further examination. However, no further examination has been conducted. While the EAC OIG committed to auditing the contract, the audit has been unnecessarily delayed not only by the California Secretary of State’s Office but also by the EAC OIG’s own recalcitrance, raising questions about apparent efforts to thwart appropriate oversight of the contract,” continued the lawmakers.
Ranking Members Davis, Comer, and Hice request Inspector General Schletz provide a Member-level briefing to explain the work the EAC Office of the Inspector General is doing to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse of federal grant funds and to provide further information about the audit of the SKD Knickerbocker contract.
The letter can be found here.