Secretary of State-elect Matt Schultz has announced several important hires in the past week. Former Republican Congressional candidate Jim Gibbons will serve as Chief Deputy and Director of Business Services, while longtime Story County Auditor Mary Mosiman will run the Elections Division.
Follow me after the jump for background and analysis on those appointments.
Schultz announced yesterday that Jim Gibbons
will serve as Chief Deputy and Director of Business Services in the Secretary of State's office. I have a lot of respect for Jim Gibbons. As a NCAA championship coach, financial advisor, businessman and congressional candidate, Jim Gibbons is a proven leader and will be a great asset to the office.
Schultz had previously put Gibbons in charge of the "transition team advising on issues and personnel decisions related to the business services division" of the Secretary of State's office. I wonder whether anyone else was seriously considered for the top job in that division.
Gibbons "burned the boats" last year by quitting his job as a financial adviser in order to run full-time for Congress against Leonard Boswell. During the GOP primary campaign, he had the support of many Republican insiders, including Terry Branstad's top donor Bruce Rastetter. Gibbons raised and spent far more money before the primary than any other candidate but lost to Brad Zaun by a substantial margin.
I'm not sure what particular qualifications Gibbons brings to his new job, but it's up to him to deliver on Schultz's promise to be a "pro-business" secretary of state.
Last week Schultz announced that another member of his transition team, Story County Auditor Mary Mosiman, will head the Elections Division. Although I disagree with Schultz's main policy objective on election procedures (a broad photo ID requirement), I'm glad he hired someone with direct experience running elections in a fairly large county. Mosiman said last week,
"I fully support [Schultz's] objectives and will be proud to help achieve these goals. I also value the significance of the local County Auditors; they provide the foundation for a well-run election. I'm pleased that the State election team will include Sarah Reisetter, who has provided exemplary service to the County Auditors for the last several years."
Reisetter has been elections director in the Secretary of State's Office under Michael Mauro. It's encouraging to hear that she will stay on.
Schultz's top policy objective on elections will be to require all Iowans to show a photo ID before voting in person. Currently Iowans have to show photo ID when registering to vote on election day. Poll workers can also ask to see photo ID if someone categorized as an "inactive" voter comes to vote, and the poll worker does not recognize that person.
Another big question mark is how Schultz and Mosiman will attempt to change the rules regarding early voting at "satellite" locations (outside the county auditor's office). Iowa's more populous counties typically have satellite voting locations at public libraries, large grocery stores, churches or local colleges. Mosiman drew criticism during this year's campaign "for approving satellite voting stations during Sunday worship hours at two large evangelical churches in Ames," while not setting up a satellite voting site at Story County's largest shopping mall because of the expense involved. She said she has never been "a big fan of satellite voting," because it's costly and gives county auditors little discretion to deny a petition requesting for a satellite voting location. Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett, a Democrat, has also questioned the expense of running satellite voting locations that can be requested by as few as 100 voters. According to Slockett, some county auditors will ask state legislators to change the requirements on satellite voting. The Secretary of State's Office can't change rules on satellite voting through administrative procedures.
Bills on early voting or photo ID would be considered first in the Iowa House and Senate State Government Committees. Republican Peter Cownie will chair that committee in the House, and Democrat Jeff Danielson will chair that committee in the Senate. Schultz has hired former State Representative Doug Struyk to be his policy adviser. Struyk was first elected to the Iowa House as a Democrat in 2002, but he switched parties and served several terms as a Republican.
There's still no word on whether Governor-elect Branstad will offer a job to outgoing Secretary of State Mauro. Shortly after the election, Branstad praised Mauro's work and said he would consider hiring him in his administration.
Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.
Probably didn't have a choice
Mosiman is right that the requirements to request a satellite voting location are really low, and that Auditors don't have discretion about whether to approve a petition beyond declaring that the location has inadequate facilities (for privacy, electricity, or whatever). Sounds like five conservative churches took advantage of the rules this year.
Back when I was involved in the ISU Democrats we definitely tried to get satellite voting stations set up for students, without spending too much energy fighting for representation for, say, the Greek system.
I'm not against changing the rules
on satellite voting, as long as the new rules are reasonably and don't clearly favor one party.