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I have been pulled over a handful of times in my life. Until the last few years, it had never dawned on me to tell the officer I had “no criminal intent.”

Apparently, though, it is a legitimate defense…at least for Democrats.

I do not mean to keep banging this drum, but when journalists work on a story that they cannot make add up, they don’t just let it go.

Iowa law states that the county board determines the compensation of extra help and clerks appointed by the principal county officers.

That is the law. Period.

But Scott County Auditor Roxanna Moritz violated the law. I don’t think anyone disputes that. She decided to pay her primary election help $15 an hour without having approval from the county board.

Scott County Attorney Michael Walton said his office has no plans to investigate the incident because there was no criminal intent.

But let’s look at whether or not there was “criminal intent.”

According to the Quad-City Times, Moritz said she called the county’s Budget and Administrative Services Director to find out if she had enough money in her budget to pay the help $15 an hour. Moritz didn’t tell the director that was why she was asking, she just wanted to make sure the funds were there.

“I paid poll workers more than I had the authority to pay them. I made a mistake,” she said.

Calling the county’s Budget and Administrative Services Director to make sure she had enough funds to pay $15 an hour certainly seems like she had criminal intent.

But consider how she paid people $15 an hour.

See, she didn’t just pay them $15 an hour. She falsified time records so that employees would be paid the equivalent of $15 an hour.

Why did she not just pay them $15 an hour? Why did she fudge records to accomplish it?

Why isn’t the fact that she did this considered criminal intent.

She intentionally falsified records to pay more than she was allowed under the law.

Seems like criminal intent.

For instance, when she put someone down for working more than 24 hours in a single day, it seems to be an intentional criminal act. Unless she makes it a habit of “accidentally” putting people down as having worked more than 24 hours in a single 24-hour day — in which case the good people of Scott County may want to reexamine just who they’ve put in charge as being the “county’s watchdog.”

Moritz knew she needed to ask the board for permission, but did not because, as she suggested according to chairman of the board Tony Knobbe, the board “would have approved it anyway.”

Inevitability doesn’t invalidate law, though.

It wasn’t Moritz’s money to spend. It was the taxpayer’s money. She spent it illegally. She tried to do it in a way that she would not get caught. She let those who elected her to represent them down. She broke the law. And she didn’t break the law by accident. One would think her call to make sure she had the funds necessary to pay $15 an hour indicates her actions were premeditated.

There is criminal intent at almost every turn.

Besides, when did ignorance of the law become a defense? And no, I don’t think that the President of the Iowa County Auditor’s Association would truly be ignorant of the law.

From the outside looking in, this looks like a Democrat County Attorney excusing illegal behavior by a Democrat County Auditor.

It is an abdication of their duties. It is an abuse to those they’re supposedly elected to serve.

Keep in mind Moritz told the board this is not the first time she has done this.

No criminal intent? Circumventing the law more than once would certainly seem to indicate some criminal intent, would it not?

Scott County taxpayers should see this through. Elected officials are not free to break the law. Standards should be higher for those privileged to serve their communities — not lower.

And this certainly seems low, both for the auditor and the attorney.

Author: Jacob Hall