Mike Marshall is next executive director for Iowa's campaign regulator

Good news for Iowans who care about ethics rules and money in politics: Mike Marshall will be the next executive director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.

The board is charged with enforcing state law on campaign finance disclosures, government ethics and lobbying the executive branch, and gifts to public officials. One of the smallest state agencies, it has experienced little turnover over the last two decades. Board chair James Albert has served for more than 20 years, outgoing executive director Megan Tooker held that job for nine years, and so did her predecessor, Charlie Smithson.

In a November 26 news release enclosed in full below, the board said Marshall was picked “because of his reputation for bi-partisanship and his many years of experience with the ethics and campaign laws the Board enforces.” Multiple candidates applied for the job; it’s not clear how many were interviewed.

Marshall leads the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Professional Licensure now, but he is best known in political circles as the secretary of the Iowa Senate from 1998 through 2016. He was hired when Republicans controlled the upper chamber and kept the position during ten years when Democrats had a Senate majority.

Although new legislative leaders often replace top staff, Democrats valued Marshall’s competence and fair-minded approach to the job. After Republicans gained a majority of seats in the 2016 elections, GOP leaders replaced Marshall with Smithson, who does not enjoy the same reputation.

November 26 news release from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board:

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board has selected Attorney Mike Marshall to serve as the Board’s next Executive Director and Legal Counsel. Mr. Marshall previously served as Secretary of the Iowa Senate for eighteen years. He is currently the Chief of the Bureau of Professional Licensure at the Department of Public Health. He will succeed Megan Tooker, who has served as the Ethics Board’s Executive Director and Legal Counsel since December 2010.

James A. Albert, Chairman of the Ethics Board and Professor of Law at Drake University, made this statement on the selection of Mr. Marshall:

“The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board is an independent, non-partisan agency of government, The Board enforces the state’s ethics laws that apply to elected officials and state employees. The Board also ensures that political campaigns in Iowa follow the law.

The Ethics Board is composed of six Board members – Republicans, Democrats, and one non-party member.

The Board chose Mr. Marshall because of his reputation for bi-partisanship and his many years of experience with the ethics and campaign laws the Board enforces.

The Ethics Board has been strongly supported in its work on behalf of the people of Iowa by Governors of both political parties over the years, including Governor Reynolds, and by the Iowa Legislature.

The Ethics Board is pleased to welcome Mike Marshall as our new Executive Director.”

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