Two attorneys have exchanged letters about complaints involving the Winneshiek County Recorder's Office.
Winneshiek County Attorney Andy Van Der Maaten two weeks ago wrote a letter to County Recorder La Vonne Bjergum stating that an audit of the Recorder's Office by Hacker Nelson & Co. raised "concerns about the accuracy of financial records maintained by your office." The letter also questioned charging $3.00 per document to remove confidential information from the document before it becomes available electronically—but not doing the work—"could conduct misconduct in office."
On Monday a letter to Van Der Maaten from Bjergum's attorney, Dale Putnam, was released. Putnam questions why some objections were raised about procedures in the Recorder's Office "when it wasn't raised in any of the prior years following the audits. One has to think that there are political motives involved in raising this issue at this time."
But Van Der Maaten's reply to Putnam—also released on Monday—says "there is information you were either not provided or have overlooked with regard to these matters." Van Der Maaten continued, "the larger problem is the fact that the bank accounts at the Recorder's Office are not reconciled to the bank statements in a timely manner."
The two also disagreed on the issue of uploading recorded documents and the obligations related to those responsibilities. Putnam says the Recorder's Office scans indexes of documents it receives from the Auditor's Office and has been doing so since 2005. "Accordingly we must again wonder if this complaint is politically motivated," said Putnam.
Van Der Maaten's reply says index information and document images must be uploaded to the Iowa Land Records portal within 72 hours of recording and adds, "your client is well aware of that requirement, since she and I had discussed this matter on September 29th, 2006." Van Der Maaten adds that he has since discussed this issue several times with Bjergum. "You suggest that the Auditor's Office review of documents may somehow delay the uploading process. While on a rare occasion that may cause uploading within 72 hours to be difficult, it is highly unlikely that the documents filed since February of 2010 have been kept by the Auditor's Office until the middle of August."
Van Der Maaten's letter ends with an offer to meet with Putnam and Bjergum to discuss how Bjergum intends to correct the problems. "As County Attorney, I have a responsibility to bring these issues to your client's attention," he says.