Iowa Senate Democratic leader relents on Nate Boulton's committee assignments

Iowa Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen has reversed her decision last month not to assign Senator Nate Boulton to any committees. The day before the Iowa legislature will convene for its 2019 session, Petersen said in a written statement,

“In early December, I deferred making committee assignments for Senator Boulton until the Senate Ethics Committee completed its investigation into the complaint filed against him.

“Senator Boulton’s position in the Iowa Senate was preserved by the Senate Ethics Committee ruling. He is expected to uphold the duties of his office while he remains in the Iowa Senate, including working on new committee assignments.”

The Ethics Committee dismissed Sharon Wegner’s complaint without investigating the substance of her claim that Boulton touched her non-consensually. Rather, senators determined they lacked jurisdiction over events that occurred before Boulton won his Iowa Senate seat in November 2016.

Much of the state legislature’s work happens at the committee level, as most bills introduced never make it to a vote on the House or Senate floor. Following the Ethics Committee’s meeting in December, Petersen said, “I still believe Senator Boulton should resign from the Iowa Senate,” but did not clarify her intentions regarding his committee assignments.

Boulton will serve on the Local Government and Natural Resources and Environment committees, as well as on the Appropriations subcommittee for Transportation and Capitals.

Bleeding Heartland will publish a full list of Iowa Senate committee assignments for both parties on January 14.

Activists who are upset over how Boulton handled the sexual misconduct complaint against him should focus on recruiting and supporting a Democratic primary challenger. Boulton will be up for re-election in 2020 in Senate district 16, covering parts of the east side of Des Moines and Pleasant Hill in Polk County. The district contains more than twice as many Democrats as Republicans, so the winner of the June 2020 primary will almost certainly win a full four-year term in the general election.

UPDATE: I’ve said Boulton should resign since last May and repeatedly criticized his response to the sexual misconduct allegations against him (see here, here, here, and here). I don’t endorse the decision to assign him to committees for the 2019 session and I plan to support another candidate in the 2020 primary to represent Senate district 16.

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