Where are they now? Chris Hagenow edition

Former Iowa House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow has joined the conservative advocacy group Iowans for Tax Relief as vice president, the organization announced on November 10. In that position, he will “develop public policy solutions and strengthen relationships across the state to advance ITR’s goals of lower taxes, less government spending, and fewer onerous regulations.” Iowans for Tax Relief said Hagenow’s “new role will be an advisory one and he will not be participating in the organization’s lobbying efforts.”

Speaking to WHO Radio host Simon Conway on November 11, Hagenow said he would spend a lot of time “traveling around the state, visiting with business leaders and activists, and frankly the taxpayers and find out what’s important to them, and communicating the things we think should be done.”

First elected to the state House in 2008, Hagenow rose quickly in GOP ranks, becoming majority whip in 2013 and majority leader (the second-ranking position in the chamber) in 2015.

Hagenow represented a Polk County district covering some western suburbs of Des Moines for ten years. He prevailed in one of the most expensive Iowa House races of 2016, then moved to safer Republican territory in Dallas County before the 2018 campaign.

After Linda Upmeyer announced plans to step down as House speaker in 2019, Hagenow competed to succeed her, but caucus members chose Pat Grassley instead. The former heir apparent was not part of the House leadership team during the 2020 session, nor did he chair any committee. He did not reveal any concrete plans when announcing in March that he would not seek re-election.

Republican politicians in Iowa have often found a landing pad at conservative lobby groups. Former State Representative Walt Rogers became deputy director of the Tax Education Foundation of Iowa in May 2019, soon after losing his 2018 re-election bid and a special election for an Iowa Senate seat.

Former House Speaker and Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett co-founded the Engage Iowa think tank while laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial campaign. The organization suspended its activities after Corbett became a candidate in 2017 but continued to compensate him well. Though Engage Iowa has not produced a new policy paper in years, it paid Corbett $50,000 in 2019 for what was supposedly full-time work as the organization’s president, according to tax filings.

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