i9 Fact Checker: Ad uses statehouse bills to justify Sen. Mathis support for funding police

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Republicans across the country have used funding for law enforcement as a campaign issue against Democrats. This political ad from State Senator Liz Mathis’ (D-Cedar Rapids) campaign argues the Democrat is “a longtime friend of local law enforcement” through her support in the legislature.

State Sen. Mathis is running for congress against Congresswoman Ashley Hinson in Iowa’s Second District.

Claim #1: “Liz Mathis fully fund law enforcement training and equipment.”

Analysis: To support this, the Mathis campaign pointed us to House File 861. This is the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Justice, which includes the Attorney General’s Office, Department of Corrections, Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and Department of Public Safety, which includes the Iowa State Patrol, crime lab and the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). Mathis sat on the appropriations committee, so would have had a role in shaping this bill. An analysis by the Iowa Legislative Services Agency showed HF 861 included additional staffing for the Iowa Law Enforcement Training Academy, a $2.5 million increase for the Public Safety Equipment Fund.

That was one of six appropriations bills the Mathis Campaign sent us that Sen. Mathis voted to support. We also found three other times Sen. Mathis voted against annual Justice appropriations bills in 20172018 and 2019.

The state does not directly fund local law enforcement agencies, like County Sheriff’s Offices or Police Departments. However, Sen. Mathis voted to prevent local governments from defunding the police in Senate File 479. The campaign also cites that bill in this ad as proof Sen. Mathis is against efforts to defund police.

Conclusion: Appropriations bills are an annual requirement of the legislature, so using them as proof of support for anything is tenuous. By reverse logic, Sen. Mathis also voted against some of those appropriations during her time in the statehouse but that does not mean she is against funding law enforcement. Her vote to protect local law enforcement funding adds some weight to her fiscal support of law enforcement, which is enough to give this claim a ‘B’.