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Iowa taxpayers could be on the hook for thousands of dollars spent as part of a voter fraud investigation.

Secretary of State Matt Schultz launched the investigation in July of last year.  The office is spending up to $280,000 over two years to have a Department of Public Safety officer look into cases of alleged voter fraud.

So far it has resulted in charges against 16 people.

Funding for the investigation is coming from the federal Help America Vote Act or HAVA.  State Auditor Mary Mosiman wrote to Schultz Thursday saying the investigation could violate how HAVA funding is supposed to be used.

According to Mosiman, “The HAVA act does not sufficiently define whether the investigation of complaints and potential criminal activity is an allowable expenditure.”

Mosiman says the Secretary of State should, “Develop a plan to repay HAVA funds should the US Election Commission not allow the activity and request payment.”

Five of the 16 cases have been dismissed and five have resulted in guilty pleas. None have gone to trial.