Iowans aren't buying the Republican case against Planned Parenthood funding

Iowa Republican lawmakers have been trying to eliminate state funding for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services for years. Since they acquired the power to make their vision a reality, the issue has attracted much more public attention and news coverage. At the statehouse and in media availabilities, Republicans have repeated talking points about “access” and not wanting to “subsidize” abortion providers.

The latest Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register indicates they aren’t convincing anyone.

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Will Steve Bierfeldt ever work in Iowa Republican politics again?

The Republican Party of Iowa’s former executive director Steve Bierfeldt is not helping new leaders gain access to “the party’s social media accounts, email lists, voter rolls email accounts, donor lists and even online access to the bank account.” On July 4, the Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs highlighted the lack of new posts on the Iowa GOP’s official website and Facebook and Twitter accounts. I had noticed the party’s lack of activity on social media but did not imagine new leaders were literally locked out. At this writing, the Iowa GOP twitter account is back in service, but the most recent Facebook post is still dated June 13.

The party’s new executive director, Chad Olsen, repeatedly asked Bierfeldt for help with passwords in e-mails quoted by Jacobs. This morning, the conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts quoted Olsen as saying, “We are making progress on our own, directly with individual companies, which can be a slow and deliberate process.  The previous executive director (Steve Bierfeldt) still has not provided any additional information….”

Bierfeldt joined the Iowa GOP’s staff shortly after Ron Paul loyalists gained most party leadership positions in 2012. He agreed in May of this year to resign effective June 14, when the Iowa GOP’s new State Central Committee would take control. One of Iowa’s representatives on the Republican National Committee, Tamara Scott, hinted during a contentious State Central Committee meeting on June 28 that ousted state party chair Danny Carroll was working on a “peaceable and professional” exit strategy for Bierfeldt, “something you want when your E.D. has your passwords, your files and your database and is the architect of your upcoming state convention.” Bierfeldt apparently told Olsen last week that “he’d been told to delete all of the Iowa GOP files on his computer, so he no longer had the spreadsheet with all the passwords.”

I’ve been downsized, so I empathize with feeling frustrated after losing a good job. But to sabotage your successor’s work is incredibly immature and unprofessional. Bierfeldt should not be able to get another political or campaign job after this episode. Nevertheless, my money’s on someone bringing him on board with the Rand Paul presidential campaign, or perhaps some PAC affiliated with Paul or the “Liberty” movement.

UPDATE: Added more details below. The longer this drags on, the worse Bierfeldt looks.

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Jeff Kaufmann and Cody Hoefert likely to be next Iowa GOP leaders

Former Iowa House Speaker Pro Tem Jeff Kaufmann appears likely to be chosen as the next state chair of the Republican Party of Iowa this weekend. Kaufmann has been rumored to be angling for that position ever since he was elected to the party’s new State Central Committee this spring. He made his plans official in an e-mail sent to fellow State Central Committee members yesterday. Excerpts are after the jump. Kaufmann served four terms in the Iowa House before retiring in 2012. His son, Bobby Kaufmann, currently represents the same district.

Lyon County Republican Chair Cody Hoefert announced yesterday that he is running for state party co-chair. Excerpts from his e-mail are at the end of this post.

Immediately after their terms began on June 14, the majority of new State Central Committee members signed a letter calling for a meeting on June 28 to elect a new chair and co-chair. Danny Carroll and Gopal Krishna have served in those positions since late March.

Some party activists are upset that the new State Central Committee isn’t giving Carroll a chance to show he can lead. A former state lawmaker and close ally of Bob Vander Plaats, Carroll is popular with social conservatives. At least two GOP county central committees (Jasper and Warren Counties) have passed non-binding votes of no confidence in the State Central Committee’s plan to vote on new leaders. I recommend watching or listening to the video of Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler’s remarks to Jasper County Republican Central Committee members, followed by comments from the audience and the no-confidence vote. Scheffler repeatedly brought up the need for the state party to improve its fundraising, and argued that past chair A.J. Spiker created this problem by resigning in March rather than making his resignation effective on June 14, when the new State Central Committee was seated. He also suggested that Carroll should have agreed to resign his position, an assertion that angered some Jasper County activists.

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Weekend open thread: End of 2014 legislative session edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Iowa legislature got out of town on May 2, 110 calendar days after the 2014 session began. That’s ten days after lawmakers’ per diem payments ran out but earlier than in any year since 2010, when Democrats held majorities in both chambers. After the jump I’ve posted closing remarks delivered by the top Iowa Senate Democrats (Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and President Pam Jochum) and the top Iowa House Republicans (Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer). A series of posts next week will focus on some of the more significant legislative results from the session, as well as important bills that never did pass.

I’ve also enclosed Gronstal’s prepared remarks on the final Iowa Senate vote of the session: granting subpeona power to the Government Oversight Committee to continue investigating various scandals in Governor Terry Branstad’s administration. Gronstal emphasized that the resolution is “narrowly drafted” and “not a criminal investigation. The goal is not to convict people. The only goal is to find out what went wrong [in state government] and how to fix it.” The resolution passed by voice vote just before the Senate adjourned on Friday morning. Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix blasted what he called a “dangerous” and “underhanded partisan move.” He claimed the “disruption of separation of powers” will invite “a state constitutional crisis,” and that the Oversight Committee’s investigation is politically motivated.

Finally, in non-legislative news, Patrick Caldwell reported for Mother Jones this week on a remarkably shady deal involving Danny Carroll in 1996. At the time, Carroll was a real estate agent in the Grinnell area and an Iowa House Republican. He currently chairs the Republican Party of Iowa–though probably not for much longer. After reading Caldwell’s piece, I want to know why anyone supposedly committed to Christian values would participate in a scheme to take advantage of an elderly widow with debts.  

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Weekend open thread: Big Iowa GOP changes

The Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party held district conventions yesterday. Nothing particularly important happened at the Democratic conventions, but the GOP gatherings continued the march toward overthrowing the “Liberty” faction that gained control soon after the 2012 caucuses. No one from the Ron Paul orbit won a seat on the newly-elected State Central Committee, which will take over after the party’s state convention in June. They are likely to replace Danny Carroll and Gopal Krishna in the party’s top leadership positions.

I’ve listed the new State Central Committee members after the jump. Notable names include Governor Terry Branstad’s legal counsel Brenna Findley and William Gustoff, both elected to represent the third district. Gustoff is a partner in the law firm headed by U.S. Senate candidate Matt Whitaker and State Representative Chris Hagenow. In 2011, Branstad named Gustoff to the State Judicial Nominating Commission, but the Iowa Senate did not confirm him. Findley briefly was an attorney with Whitaker Hagenow after she left Representative Steve King’s staff to run for Iowa attorney general in 2010.

According to Kevin Hall of The Iowa Republican blog, “Liberty” activists handed out flyers at all four district conventions urging delegates not to vote for fourteen State Central Committee candidates. All fourteen of them won seats on the committee anyway.

Another interesting development: the GOP platform committee in the first district removed the plank declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman. Katherine Klingseis reported for The Des Moines Register that the new platform language asserts the government should have no role in marriage. Some delegates tried and failed three times yesterday to restore the traditional marriage plank through amendments. UPDATE: According to conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart, one of the IA-01 convention votes on platform language went 116 to 89 to remove so-called “defense of traditional marriage” from the district GOP platform.

Kathie Obradovich wrote up the six IA-03 candidates’ pitches to Republican convention delegates. For now I consider it more likely than not that the nomination will be decided at a special district convention.

UPDATE: More thoughts on the Iowa GOP State Central Committee changes after the jump.

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