Weekend open thread: New job for Culver edition

For months, the Des Moines rumor mill has said former Governor Chet Culver was under consideration for some federal government position. The speculation was confirmed this week when President Barack Obama named Culver to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation board of directors. An excerpt from the White House press release is after the jump.

Better known as “Farmer Mac,” the corporation purchases agricultural loans, in theory freeing up credit to “improve the ability of agricultural lenders to provide credit to America’s farmers, ranchers and rural homeowners, businesses and communities.” Farmer Mac also “finances rural electric and telephone cooperatives.”

Many Iowa politics-watchers will recognize the name of the Farmer Mac board chairman: Lowell Junkins. He served 12 years in the Iowa Senate, rising to the position of majority leader, before he ran for governor against Terry Branstad in 1986. President Bill Clinton appointed Junkins to the Farmer Mac board in 1996.

In April of this year, Culver formed a consulting firm “to work with individuals and public and private sector entities to provide strategic consulting, cut through red tape and promote cutting-edge ideas that will move the country forward.” He also became “co-champion” of the national popular vote movement, an effort to ensure that the winner of the presidential election is the candidate who wins the most popular votes.

There was bad news for travelers in north central Iowa this week. Delta Airlines announced plans to drop service to 24 unprofitable small markets across the country, including Fort Dodge and Mason City. According to KSCG radio, “Delta flights in Mason City have a 46-percent load factor, with Fort Dodge flights having a 39-percent load factor.” Senator Tom Harkin warned in a statement that Delta’s decision “could disrupt air service across the state, forcing Iowans to drive farther and travel for longer periods of time to meet their destination.  It will also negatively impact business operations in these areas.” Harkin noted that Delta is also seeking aid to continue serving Sioux City and Waterloo. The whole statement from Harkin’s office is after the jump. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill this year eliminating the Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes air travel to smaller communities. The Senate is trying to preserve the program, but House and Senate negotiators haven’t reached a compromise on that provision, which is part of a larger Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill.

By the way, that FAA bill passed the House on a mostly party-line vote (roll call). Republicans Tom Latham (IA-04) and Steve King (IA-05) voted for the bill, while Democrats Leonard Boswell (IA-03), Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Bruce Braley (IA-01) voted against it. Currently Burlington, Mason City and Fort Dodge are the only Iowa communities receiving support through the Essential Air Service program. Loebsack represents the Burlington area, while Latham represents Mason City and Fort Dodge. Both of those cities are part of the new fourth Congressional district, where King will be running against former First Lady Christie Vilsack in 2012.

This is an open thread. What’s on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers?

UPDATE: Someone tried to break into Representative Leonard Boswell’s farm outside Lamoni on Saturday night. Boswell was there with members of his family at the time. No one was seriously injured; a statement from Boswell’s office Sunday morning suggests that the intruder hasn’t been apprehended. That statement is after the jump.

Statement from Representative Leonard Boswell’s office, July 17:

Statement Concerning Incident at the Boswell Farm

Des Moines, Ia. – Please find a statement below from Congressman Leonard Boswell’s Chief of Staff, Grant Woodard, concerning an incident at the Congressman’s farm on the night of July 16th.

At approximately 10:45 p.m. on Saturday there was an attempted home invasion at Congressman Leonard Boswell’s farm outside of Lamoni, Iowa. At the house at the time was Congressman Boswell, Dody Boswell, his daughter Cindy Brown, and grandson Mitchell Brown. The intruder entered the front door of the farm house and physically assaulted Cindy while demanding money at gunpoint. Hearing Cindy’s screams, Congressman Boswell entered the entryway and attempted to disarm the intruder of his weapon. While the scuffle between Congressman Boswell and the intruder was occurring, Mitchell was able to secure a shotgun from another room. Mitchell pointed the shotgun at the intruder who then retreated into the fields around the house.

Besides some scrapes and bruises, Congressman Boswell and his family are fine.

The Decatur County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating the incident along with state and federal authorities.

Congressman Boswell would like to express his sincere thanks to all the members of the law enforcement community who have worked through the night on this matter.

White House press release, July 14:

Chester Culver, Nominee for Member, Board of Directors of the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation

Chet Culver served as the 41st Governor of Iowa from 2007-2011. He is currently the Manager and Director of the Chet Culver Group, a renewable energy consulting firm and bi-partisan issue advocacy group. In 1998, he was elected Iowa’s 29th Secretary of State, a position to which he was re-elected in 2002. Before entering elective politics, Governor Culver taught government and history at Roosevelt and Hoover High Schools in Des Moines, Iowa, and also coached football and basketball. He began his career as an environmental and consumer advocate in the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. Governor Culver earned a B.A. in Political Science from Virginia Polytechnic University and an M.A. in Teaching from Drake University.

Senator Tom Harkin press release, July 15:

Harkin Statement on Delta’s Proposed Scaled Back Air Service in Iowa

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement upon learning that Delta will scale back air service in Iowa, which will impact Fort Dodge and Mason City, and that Delta will request a subsidy for air service in Sioux City and Waterloo.  Harkin has been a long-time supporter of the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which provides financial support for these cities to maintain their air service.

“Delta’s decision to drop its turbo-prop aircraft will have a negative effect on Fort Dodge and Mason City.  Further, its decision to seek financial assistance to continue service for Sioux City and Waterloo creates some risk for air service to those cities as well.  In short, this decision could disrupt air service across the state, forcing Iowans to drive farther and travel for longer periods of time to meet their destination.  It will also negatively impact business operations in these areas.

“I have been in regular contact with both Senator Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Committee overseeing the EAS program, and the U.S. Department of Transportation on the need to continue the Essential Air Service Program so it can provide proper support for all of the Iowa cities with air service.”

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation in March as a part of the FAA reauthorization that eliminates the EAS program.  The U.S. Senate rejected the House elimination of the program, but did narrow the program in a variety of ways that would not adversely impact Iowa cities in its version of the measure.  Since March, the House and Senate have been in discussions to reach agreement on their differences involving a wide range of issues.  Senator Harkin has been in regular contact with Senator Rockefeller, the lead negotiator for the Senate, on the importance of preserving the program for cities like Mason City, Fort Dodge and Burlington and has urged Rockefeller to preserve the continued right of cities, like Waterloo and Sioux City, not now receiving assistance to join the program.  Click here to view a letter Harkin recently submitted to Chairman Rockefeller.  He is also working to maximize the quality of aircraft that will be flown from the four Iowa cities involved in the long term.

  • Lowell Junkins

    I hope Chet keeps up with this consulting and makes a return to public office soon.  As you correctly stated before dmd, he probably wouldn’t get through a primary, but he would have my support.  

    Everything I hear the name Lowell Junkins I have to laugh a little bit.  One of Gene Fraise’s favorite stories is to talk about how Branstad wouldn’t stop hammering Lowell on the issue of bonding in order to balance the state’s books.  He gets cute calling them “junk bonds” (get it?)and then Branstad uses bonds to balance the books when he gets re-elected.

    I’ve never seen Gene Fraise get so animated telling a story, he may run for another term just to take pot shots at Branstad’s current decisions and to tell stories from the 1980’s.  (:  

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