Carmine Boal is the new Iowa House chief clerk

Catching up on some news from last week, Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen hired Carmine Boal to be chief clerk in the Iowa House. She replaces Charlie Smithson, who will be the new legal counsel for Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz.

The chief clerk serves as parliamentarian of the Iowa House, supervises personnel and oversees the budget for the lower chamber’s operations. Boal is well-qualified for the role, having represented the Ankeny area in the Iowa House from 1999 through 2008. More recently, she has worked in Governor Terry Branstad’s administration in the office on Boards and Commissions.

Paulsen hired Smithson as chief clerk shortly after Republicans won a House majority in the 2010 elections. He previously served as the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board’s executive director for a decade. Before that, Smithson was the Iowa ethics board’s staff attorney, having done a similar job in Kansas.

Smithson has earned respect from politicians in both parties over the years and is an excellent choice to be chief counsel for the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. That position has been vacant for nearly six months. Schultz hired former Republican state legislator Doug Struyk for the job in late 2010, but in May of this year, Paulsen tapped Struyk to be his new chief aide in the Iowa House.

It’s unfortunate that the Secretary of State’s office didn’t have legal counsel on the job this summer, when Schultz opted to use emergency rule-making to adopt controversial new rules related to voter roll maintenance and reporting alleged electoral fraud. A Polk County judge prevented those rules from going into effect for the 2012 elections but has not yet decided whether they are legal.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is representing Schultz in court proceedings related to those rules. If they are struck down, as I suspect they will be, Smithson should be able to advise the secretary of state on a different approach.

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