Chet Culver to return to federal board

President Joe Biden appointed former Iowa Governor Chet Culver to the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation’s board of directors this week. Assuming Culver is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, it will be his second term on the Farmer Mac board. President Barack Obama named Culver to the board in 2011, and the Senate confirmed him by voice vote in March 2012. President Donald Trump removed Culver from the position in December 2019, replacing him with LaJuana Wilcher, the current board chair.

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Iowa Republicans have abandoned executive branch oversight

Governor Kim Reynolds has been lucky at key points in her political career. Terry Branstad passed over more experienced contenders to select her as his 2010 running mate, allowing a little-known first-term state senator to become a statewide elected official. Six years later, Donald Trump won the presidency and named Branstad as an ambassador, setting Reynolds up to become governor without having to win a GOP primary first.

Most important, Reynolds has enjoyed a Republican trifecta her entire four years as governor. Not only has she been able to sign much of her wish list into law, she has not needed to worry that state lawmakers would closely scrutinize her administration’s work or handling of public funds.

During the legislative session that wrapped up last month, the GOP-controlled House and Senate rejected every attempt to make the governor’s spending decisions more transparent. They declined to hold even one hearing about questionable uses of federal COVID-19 relief funds or practices at state agencies that disadvantaged thousands of Iowans.

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Minority impact statements in Iowa: History and continuing efforts

Marty Ryan of Des Moines lobbied the Iowa legislature for 27 years and now blogs weekly. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa quarter, printed in the latter part of 2004, is based upon a Grant Wood painting depicting a group of students and their teacher planting a tree outside of a county school. The statement on the coin says, “Foundation In Education.” For many decades, Iowa was noted for its first-in-the-nation education status. Likewise, Iowa has been a consistent leader in civil rights.

In fact, Iowa established some standards of equality long before the federal government or other states.

But racial disparities continue to affect Iowans in many areas of life. A reform the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted more than a decade ago has only slightly mitigated the problem.

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Chet Culver to Kim Reynolds: Have Test Iowa contract independently audited

James C. Larew is an attorney in Iowa City who served as general counsel and chief of staff for former Governor Chet Culver. -promoted by Laura Belin

Former Governor Chet Culver wrote to Governor Kim Reynolds on May 7, urging her to have an immediate and comprehensive performance audit conducted of Nomi Health’s COVID-19 testing services in Iowa. The Utah-based company is providing testing at drive-through sites under a $26 million no-bid contract with the state. 

Culver suggested that Reynolds ask State Auditor Rob Sand to perform such an audit, or order a comparable review by a competent and independent agency. His letter outlined serious problems already known to the public about the Test Iowa program. He warned that if not remedied immediately, by making Nomi Health’s performance fully compliant with all applicable federal and state laws, and with best pandemic practices, those difficulties will place the health of Iowans at great risk. The full text of the letter follows:

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Chet Culver challenges Kim Reynolds' COVID-19 workplace rules

James C. Larew is an attorney in Iowa City who served as general counsel and chief of staff for former Governor Chet Culver. -promoted by Laura Belin

Enclosed below is the full text of a letter former Governor Chet Culver sent Governor Kim Reynolds challenging the newly announced policies restricting workers from seeking unemployment compensation if they decline to return to a job, believing workplace conditions are unsafe.

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Iowans who quit over unsafe conditions may still receive unemployment

Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend acknowledged on April 30 that Iowans who refuse to go back to their jobs because of unsafe working conditions will not automatically be excluded from receiving unemployment payments.

However, she warned that “it takes more than a mere assertion by the employee” to qualify for benefits under those circumstances.

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