The five members of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission unanimously elected a new chairman yesterday: Jeff Lamberti, a former State Senator and Congressional candidate who is president of the Iowa Barnstormers arena football team.
Lamberti had already been running the commission's meetings since the previous chair's term ended two months ago. In late June, he pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated. He was fined $1,250 and ordered to attend a two-day program for drunken drivers.
Governor Terry Branstad expressed support for Lamberti's continued service after the incident, since he had taken responsibility for his actions.
So, let the record reflect that endangering others while driving down the highway with a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit is no barrier to running one of Iowa's most powerful state commissions. But some guy who stole a vending machine as a teenager during the 1980s was unable to get even his voting rights restored under the system Branstad created by executive order. In fact, thousands of people who have completed prison terms for non-violent felonies will never get to vote again in Iowa. The governor insists people's fundamental rights should depend on whether they know the address of the judge who sentenced them decades ago, or whether they have paid the full court costs associated with their crimes. To my knowledge, Lamberti was not ordered to compensate Des Moines police or the judicial system for the cost of handling his case.