"We have to wake the watchdog up": Why Rob Sand's running for state auditor

The state auditor of Iowa is not a “sexy office,” former Assistant Attorney General Rob Sand told me earlier this fall. “But it’s a huge opportunity for public service, because I think that the way that it’s run right now, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit for improvement.”

Sand kicked off his candidacy this morning with a website and Facebook page. He’s been tweeting for some time at @RobSandIA. His opening video is here. At the end of this post I’ve enclosed Sand’s campaign committee, including activists and elected officials from many parts of the state as well as Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and former Attorney General Bonnie Campbell.

Sand discussed with Bleeding Heartland how he would approach the job and why he is running against Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman, a certified public accountant who has served as state auditor since 2013. Although this office is not the obvious choice for an attorney, Sand considers his experience prosecuting white-collar crime “my biggest qualification” and a key reason he could improve on Mosiman’s work. Moreover, he’s not afraid to call out a “historically irresponsible” state budget.

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How Iowa could have lost three Supreme Court justices in 2016

Remember how awful you felt on November 9, 2016, as you started to grasp what we were up against following the most devastating Iowa election in decades?

Would you believe the results could have been even worse?

Imagine Governor Terry Branstad appointing three right-wingers to the Iowa Supreme Court. It could have happened if conservative groups had targeted Chief Justice Mark Cady, Justice Brent Appel, and Justice Daryl Hecht with the resources and fervor they had applied against three justices in 2010.

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Muscatine official hides cost of crusade against mayor

Going into tomorrow’s mayoral and city council elections, citizens of Muscatine have no idea how much city leaders spent on the unsuccessful and unconstitutional attempt to remove Mayor Diana Broderson from office. Key internal correspondence related to the long-running power struggle and “kangaroo court” removal proceeding has also been shielded from public view.

City administrator Gregg Mandsager has thwarted records requests from local media by charging outrageous fees for obtaining documents or by redacting information from records provided.

Mandsager’s approach has subverted the spirit of the open records law, raising more questions about the advice Muscatine officials have received from city attorney Matthew Brick.

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Clovis to stay at USDA, avoid testifying under oath

Earlier this week, I was surprised when key U.S. Senate Republicans indicated the confirmation process for Sam Clovis would move ahead as scheduled. I knew they didn’t care Clovis lacks the qualifications spelled out in federal law for the chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But why would a key figure in an expanding criminal probe of possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign want to take questions under oath at an open hearing?

As it turned out, he didn’t.

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Chuck Grassley's odd reaction to the first Mueller indictments

Let’s start with the good news: despite being an early skeptic on the need for a special prosecutor to investigate possible collusion between Russian entities and President Donald Trump’s campaign, Senator Chuck Grassley told CNN’s Manu Raju today, “The president should let the special counsel do his job.”

Commenting further on Robert Mueller’s first indictments, Grassley said in a written statement that “it’s important to let our legal system run its course,” and that the “Judiciary Committee is continuing its work to ensure that the Justice Department and FBI are functioning free from inappropriate influence […].” As chair of that Committee, Grassley is better-placed than most Republicans to let the White House know Congress will not tolerate efforts to obstruct justice by firing Mueller before his investigation is complete.

The rest of Grassley’s news release focused on a small part of Mueller’s case against Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates. Seizing on that angle–failure by Manafort and Gates to register as foreign agents–allowed the senator to highlight his longstanding concerns about similar lawbreaking by Democratic consultants and lobbyists. Today’s statement continued Grassley’s pattern of focusing his investigative energy on “tangential subjects,” in an apparent effort “to minimize the culpability of Trump and his aides and to deflect attention from the core issues of the controversy.”

Grassley did not address a newly-disclosed guilty plea by a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser. The government’s “Statement of the Offense” charging George Papadopoulos with lying to the FBI, filed on October 5 but released today, lays out a damning timeline of attempts to connect Trump representatives with Russian officials. That document also indicates that Papadopoulos has been cooperating with investigators, who know more than what has been made public so far.

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Des Moines City Council Ward 3 forum: Neighborhoods and advocates

Thanks to Stefanie Running for a play-by-play of the October 10 candidate forum for Des Moines City Council Ward 3, featuring Michael Kiernan, Josh Mandelbaum, and Abshir Omar. First-person accounts of campaign events are always welcome at Bleeding Heartland. -promoted by desmoinesdem

6:30 PM
It’s really a lovely night. Mid 60s, you can smell fall emerging from the hundred-year-old neighborhood trees and the glowing sunset inching forward sooner each day. Max Knauer and Kate Allen have been working with neighborhood associations and advocacy groups since August putting this forum together. I volunteer as a social chair for Gray’s Lake Neighborhood Association (GLNA), so I’ve seen the work that they’ve put into the program. They’ve scheduled the forum right in the heart of my own neighborhood, so it’s barely a half mile for me to travel.

As I arrive, other neighborhood reps are setting up, Knauer fields questions from co-sponsors and attendees alike. The candidates arrive. I’ve spoken to all three digitally via email or facebook. Tonight I introduce myself. I’m Stefanie Running. I’ll be the rep for this very neighborhood. I’ll also be writing about tonight’s forum for Bleeding Heartland. All three are gracious and welcoming.

Unpacking my camera gear, I realize it’s non-functional. I forgot something. I can’t go back home because the event is about to start and I didn’t drive. So I sit and I prepare to take notes. I apologize, dear reader, for my lack of photos. That’s my favorite part. Sadly, what I lack in photos, I’m going to make up for in article length. I apologize in advance.

To make this article a little more readable, from this point on I’ll show the panelist’s comments in bold, the candidate responses will be in standard font, and my own comments in italics.

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