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Gladbrook man charged with multiple counts of theft

A former Tama County Republican Party Central Committee treasurer has been charged with multiple counts of theft and campaign finance violation.

According to court documents filed by the Iowa Attorney General’s office, from January 2020 through April 2021, Michael Bearden of Gladbrook, in his duties as county party treasurer, is alleged to have willfully violated Chapter 68A of the Iowa Code relating to campaign finance.

The Iowa Campaign and Ethics Board shows Bearden serving as treasurer of the Tama County Republican Central Committee from 2014 through January 2020. Bearden is no longer listed as central committee treasurer. Craig Knock has taken over duties in the last year.

Bearden has also been charged with first-degree theft, second-degree theft and fraudulent practice in the third degree.

Between January 2020 and April 2021 Bearden allegedly committed theft of certain checks exceeding $10,000 from the Crayon Corner Learning Center in Gladbrook.

He is also charged with theft in the second degree of checks exceeding $1,500 but not more than $10,000 drawn on accounts belonging to the Tama County Republican Party Central Committee.

Bearden is claimed to have fraudulently entered records of the Tama County Republican Party in a report submitted to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, knowing the report to be false. The value involved exceeded $750 but did not exceed $1,000.

Bearden was cited by the courts April 28. He is scheduled to appear in court for arraignment May 20.

Bearden sits on the State Engineering and Land Surveying Board. He was appointed by Gov. Kim Reynolds in March 2020. He also served as the vice president of the Iowa State Board of Education from 2014 to 2020 and as school board president at Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community School District.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is conducting the investigation.

Maurice McWhirter, Tama County Republican Central Committee Chair, was not immediately available for comment.

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