A failure to communicate

A special investigation by the State Auditor’s office asserted on June 3 that Governor Kim Reynolds violated Iowa law by using $152,585 in federal COVID-19 relief funds to purchase “online and televised ads containing the Governor’s voice, image, and name.”

Less than 30 minutes after the auditor’s report was published, Reynolds responded in a news release that the law “clearly allows” such use of public money in the context of a public health disaster emergency.

A few hours later, State Auditor Rob Sand defended his conclusions in a new written statement.

My non-lawyer’s reading of the relevant statutes aligns with the governor’s interpretation. But while legal points could be argued, one indisputable fact is that all parties involved should have discussed these findings prior to the report’s publication, instead of duking it out in news releases today.

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Pro-Ernst dark money group may get sued over undisclosed finances

UPDATE: Campaign Legal Center filed suit against Iowa Values on February 12. Original post follows.

A group formed to support U.S. Senator Joni Ernst’s re-election may face a lawsuit over its ongoing failure to disclose its fundraising and spending.

Iowa Values, created as a 501(c)4 political nonprofit, has not registered with the Federal Election Commission. The FEC has yet to act on a complaint filed more than a year ago, seeking to bring the group into compliance with campaign finance law.

The Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit organization supporting public access to the political process, has asked a U.S. District Court in Washington, DC to find that the FEC failed to comply with a court order to address the Iowa Values matter. If the court does so, federal law allows the center “to sue Iowa Values directly” to force disclosure of its financial activity. That option is on the table, an attorney for the center told Bleeding Heartland on February 8.

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Exclusive: Test Iowa vendor gave officials talking points for PR video

Governor Kim Reynolds and other officials with important roles in Iowa’s COVID-19 response received talking points from Domo, Inc. before filming a promotional video for the company on state property last July.

The Utah-based firm, part of a group that received a $26 million no-bid contract to create the Test Iowa program, provided each interview subject with questions and “key statements” in advance, documents Bleeding Heartland received through a public records request show. State Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the governor’s chief operating officer Paul Trombino, and others voiced some of those messages on camera.

Despite official claims that “no state resources were used” for the video, email records indicate two of the governor’s staffers spent time on preparations such as securing permissions to use different areas of the state capitol building. In addition, Trombino asked Dr. Michael Pentella, director of the State Hygienic Laboratory, to participate in the Test Iowa video.

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Trump pardons highlight GOP corruption problems

“Strong Island Hawk” reviews President Donald Trump’s recent pardons, which were largely political. -promoted by Laura Belin

Last month President-De-Elect Donald Trump issued executive pardons for dozens of people, including many of his former campaign officials and Republican colleagues. Many of these pardons were entirely political and, what’s worse, they absolved individuals for acts of public corruption. When this happened, a thought crossed my mind: Is the Republican Party now entirely corrupt?

In fact, I think it’s an issue that goes unnoticed by the media and even by some Democrats: today’s Republican Party may be so thoroughly corrupt it’s nearly systemic.
No party holds a monopoly on ethical behavior; Democrats have certainly had their troubles over the years. But the GOP may be experiencing an era of unprecedented party-wide corruption. I want to look at a handful of the most political cases and examine how they demonstrate the GOP’s indifferent approach to government ethics. 

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Steve King has skipped almost every U.S. House vote since the election

U.S. House members took two important votes on December 28. First, 231 Democrats and 44 Republicans approved a motion to increase direct COVID-19 relief payments for millions of Americans from $600 to $2,000, as President Donald Trump had demanded last week. About an hour later, 322 representatives voted to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. Iowa’s three Democratic representatives (Abby Finkenauer, Dave Loebsack, and Cindy Axne) were part of both majority votes.

Outgoing U.S. Representative Steve King was not present for either vote. Since the November election, he has missed most of the House floor action.

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