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Audit Questions State Payments to Business

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Auditors say a state-run center for the disabled improperly awarded dozens of no-bid construction contracts to the family business of a high-ranking Iowa purchasing official.
   State Auditor Mary Mosiman released findings Monday of an investigation into Department of Administrative Services employee Lois Schmitz and her family business, BluePrint Homes LLC.
   The report says Woodward Resource Center gave the company $505,000 in contracts in one year. Most payments were improperly split into amounts of less than $10,000 to avoid competitive bidding.
   The report says Schmitz failed to disclose the payments to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board as required.
   Schmitz was fired last year after bosses accused her of a conflict of interest. But an arbitrator reinstated her in January after determining she had no role in awarding the contracts.

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