Branstad's selective amnesia strikes again

Terry Branstad is taking a lot of shots at Governor Chet Culver on the campaign trail. I don’t know what’s more maddening: his lies about Culver’s record, his silence about important news affecting the state budget or his selective amnesia regarding his own record as governor.

While campaigning in Williamsburg on August 12, Branstad criticized how Culver handled questionable spending and personnel policies in the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. Culver had the Department of Management impose tighter controls on the division after learning about some problems in 2008. At that time, the governor also sought legal advice about firing Alcoholic Beverages Division Lynn Walding. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office indicated Culver lacked “sufficient legal basis” for removing Walding before his fixed term was up, so Culver declined to reappoint Walding in 2010. (Incidentally, some Republicans thought Walding should have been kept on.)

According to a Culver campaign press release of August 13, Branstad told his audience in Williamsburg, “If that had been my Administration, they would have been fired immediately.” Trouble is, Culver’s campaign staff hopped in the wayback machine and found:

When a similar incident happened in the Alcoholic Beverages Division during the Branstad Administration, then known as the Beer and Liquor Control Department, Branstad didn’t even try to take any action. He even ignored an inspector general report that said they should be fired. […]

Iowa’s Inspector General Said Two Managers at the Beer and Liquor Control Department Should Be Fired. “Iowa’s inspector general said Tuesday that deputy director George Price and properties manager Dicta Izzolena should be fired from the Iowa Beer and Liquor Control Department.” [Des Moines Register, 11/21/1984]

An Affair Between Top Managers at the Liquor Department Caused Morale Problems. “[State Inspector General] Gamble concluded that there is a ‘morale problem’ at the department because of the relationship between {Deputy Director George] Price and [Properties Manager Dicta] Izzolena.” [Des Moines Register, 11/21/1984]

Top People at the Beer and Liquor Control Department Made Dubious Expenditures. “The state auditor’s office will investigate questionable business transaction at the Iowa Beer and Liquor Control Department, Deputy State Auditor Kasey Kiplinger said Wednesday… During the course of his investigation, Gamble said he also discovered a number of dubious expenditures at the department, including $2,000 for a tulip bed, $2,800 for patio furniture. $255 for a redwood planter, a painting contract that grew from $550 to $3,400, and the addition of a second layer of wall paneling in a state liquor store.” [Des Moines Register, 11/22/1984]

Branstad Said He Wouldn’t Take Action To Correct Problems at the Liquor Department. “Branstad told reporters it is up to [Dept. Dir.] Gallagher and the Beer and Liquor Control Council to Decide what action to take, if any, when Gamble completes his investigation, because the governor has no direct control over the agency. ‘I believe that once they’ve got the facts and the information, they will make the appropriate decision,’ Branstad said.” [Des Moines Register, 11/14/1984]

Bad Actors at the Beer and Liquor Control Department Only Received a 30 Day Suspension. “Two Iowa Beer and Liquor Control Department officials were suspended for 30 days without pay Monday even though Iowa Inspector General Jerry Gamble said they should be fired.” [Des Moines Register, 11/27/1984]

I didn’t remember this incident, but you’d think it would have made an impression on Branstad. Then again, he seems to conveniently forget lots of things that happened in the 1980s and 1990s. I expect Branstad to get a refresher course on his own record during the next couple of months. The Culver campaign has had staff go through 1,000 boxes of files from Branstad’s time as governor, and only a small portion of what they found has been published so far.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

Continue Reading...

IA-03: Boswell campaign questions Zaun's judgment

Brad Zaun’s public record faced little scrutiny during the seven-way Republican primary in Iowa’s third Congressional district, except for one time when Dave Funk targeted Zaun’s vote for an anti-bullying bill in the Iowa Senate. During the general election campaign, however, Zaun will have to defend his record.

Yesterday Representative Leonard Boswell’s campaign highlighted Zaun’s knee-jerk defense of Lynn Walding in February, when Governor Chet Culver let Walding know he would not be reappointed as head of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. Zaun told the Sioux City Journal,

“I’m very upset about this,” Zaun said. “It seems to me that because of the dysfunction that’s going on in the governor’s office that he’s just the fall guy. I think the governor should reconsider because I think he was one of the best, most qualified people that works for the governor. I find it very disappointing.”

If Zaun had tried to find out why Culver declined to reappoint Walding, he might have learned about excessive spending and strange personnel decisions in the Alcoholic Beverages Division under Walding’s leadership. Those became public knowledge last month, when the state auditor’s office released a report on the Alcoholic Beverages Division in 2008 and 2009. However, Walding’s extravagant purchases and other actions raised concerns in the governor’s office two years ago, prompting the Department of Management to impose new controls on the division. The Des Moines Register reported on August 5 that Walding “sought to discipline a state worker who blew the whistle on potential misspending at the agency” and was seen shredding boxes of documents before he left state government in April.

Zaun seized an opportunity to bash a Democratic governor without doing any fact-finding on whether Walding deserved to keep his job. Absurdly, he declared Walding to be one of the “best, most-qualified” people in state government. Tell that to the workers who feared retaliation if they came forward with complaints about money wasted. Residents of Iowa’s third district need a representative who does his homework before mouthing off.

I posted the Boswell campaign’s statement after the jump.

Continue Reading...
View More...