IOVA CA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The University of Iowa must file a lawsuit against a state-owned auditor seeking the names of investors in a multibillion-dollar utility privatization deal that ended last year. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday.
State Auditor Rob Sand acted lawfully when he presented details of a 50-year plan that allowed a consortium of French companies to run on-campus utilities for $ 1.16565 billion.
Given that this was one of the largest deals in Iowa history, it was appropriate for Sand to try to verify the deal even before it closed so that the school would not be bidding back and there would be no conflict of interest with investors.
“Iowa taxpayers who bear the ultimate financial risk for this transaction have the right to know whether the agency has won the best deal, whether anyone has a conflict of interest,” wrote Justice Minister Edward Mansfield in the same opinion.
Under the deal, investors including financial services companies provided $ 1.65 billion in loans to utilities ENGIE and Meridiam, which paid it off to the university. The university has invested its initial contribution into a grant that will pay $ 15 million a year to fund university education and research priorities.
Instead, the university owes companies $ 35 million a year to operate plants and infrastructure that distribute electricity, water, steam and compressed air to university buildings. That amount will increase over time, վճար total payments could exceed $ 6.8 billion over 50 years, and investors will have a stable return.
The deal will only make long-term financial sense for the university if the gift of billions in the market is not exhausted too quickly at the expense of the university. Taxpayers may be able to make payments to companies if the transaction goes south.
University of Iowa President Bruce Hareld, who promoted the offer as state-owned, said 21.5% of the deal would go to investors in Iowa. Democrat lawmakers have questioned whether the investors have ties to university officials or supporters of Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who backed the deal.
However, the school rejected the requirement to disclose the identities of investors, saying that applicants stated that their names were listed as “property rights” or “trade secrets” and could not be disclosed.
Democrat Sand, who is serving his first term, demanded details of the four bids ընկեր investors ցուց from the companies fighting for the deal, after university officials informed him about the deal in 2019.
In January 2020, Sand filed a lawsuit for a number of categories of documents related to the deal, after university officials denied his request for information. The judge ordered the university to file a lawsuit, but the university overturned the decision after appealing.
University officials were concerned that passing the information to Sandy would jeopardize a deal that had not yet been closed. They claimed that he did not audit the transaction because he had no right to interrogate.
All seven Supreme Court justices rejected the university’s position, agreeing that the lawsuit was valid and that it should be enforced.
“This is a huge profit for taxpayers,” Sand said. “It protects their ability to know what the government is doing with their money.”
The school recently changed its rationale for protecting the identities of investors after The Associated Press renewed its request for open posts about them.
“The university was not involved in the election, nor does it know which potential lender ended the financial deal with ENGIE-Meridiam,” said Ann Goff, a spokeswoman for the university in February.