Weekend open thread: Crime and punishment edition

Crime and punishment are on my mind this weekend. Yesterday two men were sentenced for breaking into Representative Leonard Boswell’s farm house last July, and an Iowa Democratic operative was charged with perpetrating identity theft against Secretary of State Matt Schultz. Follow me after the jump for more on those and other crime-related stories.

This is an open thread; all topics welcome. The Bleeding Heartland thread on the South Carolina primary results is here.  

The break-in at Boswell’s house near Lamoni didn’t take long for authorities to solve. One of the suspects was the son of a friend to Dody Boswell, the congressman’s wife. A press release from Boswell’s office on January 20 noted that David Palmer Dewberry pled guilty to first degree robbery (a Class B felony), while Cody John Rollins pled guilty to aiding and abetting an attempted burglary (a Class C felony).

Dewberry was sentenced to an indeterminate term not to exceed 25 years in prison. He must serve a minimum of 70-percent of that sentence before being eligible for parole. Rollins was sentenced to a term not to exceed 10 years in prison.

From the Boswell family’s impact statement:


It is with heavy heart that we write this. We are pleased that you have decided to do the honorable thing by pleading guilty to your crime and accepting your punishment after committing the terror that you put our family through that summer night.

What makes the whole matter most frightful and disgusting to us is that we once welcomed you into our home. However, we will not let you or anyone else turn us into a bunch of fearful cynics – that simply isn’t in our nature and we won’t change now.

While we understand that you have had a tough and tumultuous life, it is simply no excuse and your actions have no place in a civilized society. Your sinister motives and plan were appalling; it is by God’s grace that no one was seriously injured. We hope that you realize how lucky you are that you weren’t killed that night.

All this said, we believe that God has a plan for you and this isn’t it. We hope that during your incarceration you can find peace in your life, that then you can find the virtue of good judgment, and from there find the righteous path.

A more shocking crime story hit the news yesterday: Democratic operative Zach Edwards was arrested and charged with identity theft for allegedly using or trying to use “the identity of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz and/or Secretary Schultz’s brother, Thomas Schultz, with the intent to obtain a benefit, in an alleged scheme to falsely implicate Secretary Schultz in perceived illegal or unethical behavior while in office.” I’ve never been a fan of Schultz, but I am appalled that anyone might stoop to such tactics to discredit him. Edwards was the Iowa director of “new media” for Barack Obama’s 2008 general election campaign and now works for the Des Moines-based firm Link Strategies. On second thought, maybe he doesn’t work for Link Strategies anymore, because as of January 21, his bio is no longer on their website.

UPDATE: From the Sunday Des Moines Register:

Jeff Link, president of Link Strategies, confirmed Saturday that Edwards no longer works for the company.

“I am greatly disturbed by the charge brought against Zach, and understand the pending legal action will run its course,” Link said.

He added that within hours “of learning of this situation, I met with Zach and notified him he was no longer employed with Link Strategies effective immediately. After gathering further information it is clear the incident involved in the allegation was related to a personal action taken by Zach and unrelated to his work with Link Strategies. ”

Link also said his firm “holds itself to a high bar of ethics and professionalism, and this type of activity is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Sounds like Edwards is going to need a good defense attorney.

The Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling this week to clarify Iowa Code relating to vehicular homicide. From the ruling (pdf):

We conclude it is the State’s burden under section 707.6A(1) to prove a causal connection between the defendant’s intoxicated driving and the victim’s death. Although the statute does not impose a burden on the State to prove a specific causal connection between the defendant’s intoxication and the victim’s death, it does require proof of a factual causal connection between a specific criminal act–“intoxicated driving”–and the victim’s death. Put another way, the statute demands more than mere proof that the defendant’s driving caused the death of another person. A defendant may be found guilty of homicide by vehicle only if the jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt that his criminal act of driving under the influence of alcohol caused the victim’s death.

Also this week, Republican State Representative Betty De Boef weighed in on two cases in which Iowa women are alleged to have killed their newborn babies. According to De Boef’s bizarre logic, the real culprit is the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade ruling, which “tells young girls that the product of their womb is only valuable if they want it. It tells them that if they do not, it is expendable.”

De Boef isn’t the brightest bulb in the Iowa House GOP caucus. Don’t take my word for it–her own party leaders didn’t give her a committee to chair, even though she’s serving her sixth term at the capitol. Several other Iowa House committees are chaired by Republicans in their second or third terms. De Boef is retiring after this year’s legislative session; the new map of political boundaries put her in the same district as freshman State Representative Jarad Klein.

Speaking of reproductive rights, Eleanor Cooney wrote a good piece for Mother Jones recounting her own experience trying to get an abortion in the time before Roe v Wade. Hundreds of women died every year after seeking out unsafe, illegal abortions. When former Republican Lieutenant Governor Joy Corning is asked about her pro-choice views, she has sometimes told a story about one such tragedy that killed a banker’s wife and mother of several children in Cedar Falls.

UPDATE: Representative Gabrielle Giffords announced Sunday that she is resigning from Congress this week. She said she still has more work to do to recover from being shot a year ago.

SECOND UPDATE: Boswell’s office released this comment on Giffords resigning from Congress:

“I am very sad that Gabby will not return to Congress.  She is a pleasure to work with and serves for all the right reasons.  I wish her the very best as she continues to recuperate. For America’s sake, I hope that someday she returns to public life.”

Representative Bruce Braley’s office released this statement:

“Gabby Giffords’ decision to step down from Congress hit me almost as hard as the terrible tragedy in Tucson that eventually led to her decision. Gabrielle represents everything good and noble about the institution of Congress. Her willingness to reach across the aisle and bring people together and her tireless enthusiasm for the importance of her work and its impact on her constituents inspires us to refocus on our most important job: to help people.

“I was not expecting to hear that my friend Gabby has decided to step down from Congress, but I’m glad she’s doing what’s best for her recovery and long-term health.

“For the last year, Gabby has been a symbol of hope and determination for all Americans.   She has inspired us to count our blessings, stop complaining, hug our loved ones and pay it forward to those who need our help.  In these troubled times  we need more people in Congress with a heart like hers.

“I hope Gabby’s courageous fight will inspire a new generation of women and men to step forward and run for office. Carolyn and I continue to hold our friends, Gabby and Mark, in our thoughts and prayers as they move forward with their lives.

“I look forward to seeing Gabby again on Tuesday night.”

On Tuesday night, Giffords will attend President Obama’s State of the Union address.

LATE UPDATE: Representative Tom Latham’s office released the following statement on January 25.

“Gabby Giffords has deeply inspired me and the entire nation with her unshakable perseverance and courage in the face of tragedy.  Her spirit of public service and her dedication to the American people will be sorely missed in the U.S. House of Representatives.  She leaves the House a better place than she found it, and it’s my sincere hope that all of us who were lucky enough to call her a colleague will strive every single day to reach the high bar she set.  I join Americans everywhere in praying for her as she continues her remarkable recovery.”    

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  • Lil bits Open Thread

    To say BDB is not very bright is being very, very kind….

    Dem House poo-bah Kevin McCarthy spoke at a fundraiser a few weeks ago in Des Moines just before the session gaveled in.  He reported that he has been approached by four (4) persons interested in running for Gov next time around. But he would not name names.  The Iowa Republican

    says Bruce Braley will be a candidate for Gov, if he can hang on to his House seat this go-round.  Maybe you’ve noticed Braley has been making appearances at various events outside his district, sometimes in the company of Tom Harkin.

    Speaking of Braley, Boswell insiders are unhappy that Braley and Christie are sucking up Des Moines campaign money. His peeps are worried about the $$$, but the candidate himself not so much, reportedly.

    Longtime Polk Supervisor EJ Giovannetti (R) is leaning against seeking another term.  He and the other Republican, Bob Brownell were thrown together in the new map, and EJ is ceding the District to Bob. The former Urbandale mayor was supposed to announce same a few weeks ago, but if he did, I missed it, or maybe he’s changed his mind.

    • can't see Braley running for governor

      I think he will run for Senate when Harkin or Grassley retire, whoever goes first. Grassley is not ruling out another bid in 2016 but says it’s too early for him to decide.

      I don’t know who will run for governor next time. I see Branstad sticking around and a bunch of Democrats getting scared off.

  • Braley

    …I used to agree with you about BB, but now I think he’s anxious to move up and would settle for the governorship.  I think Branstad and company are eminently beatable, if he even runs. I continue to hold my belief that he will resign in Year III and turn it over to KR, giving her a leg up.  That way, he’ll have another notch in his gunbelt – a hand in orchestrating the first woman Governor in Iowa.  He likes Kim, wants to see her successful.

  • Since it's a weekend open thread....

    …here’s another tidbit….Supreme Court Justice and possible BVP target Dave Wiggins has been a busy man in an attempt to fend off any effort to unseat him in the next retention election. Reportedly, he’s been to the right and left coasts, seeking support.  Don’t know how it will work exactly, since there are probably legalities about him directly raising money…probably be funneled to a separate organization which will handle the effort to keep him on the court.

    But last time three Justices up for retention decided not to play, and the rest is history.  Not going to happen this time.  Might be a little more difficult for the BVPers this time around because The Replacements are up as well, which could muddy the waters. BVP will have to make sure people vote “no” on the right guy.