Iowa Senate broadens ethics code, but not transparency rules

Iowa state senators have amended their chamber’s ethics code following a high-profile complaint against Democratic Senator Nate Boulton, which was dismissed late last year.

The new language cover actions occurring outside the capitol building and allows citizens to file a complaint more than three years after an incident. However, the updated code would still lead to dismissal of a complaint like Sharon Wegner’s allegations against Boulton.

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Do Waukee schools have revolving doors?

Clive resident Tyler Higgs was a candidate for the Waukee school board in 2017. -promoted by Laura Belin

Former Waukee school board president Susan Bunz applied for a district job in the same month she voted to create the position, according to a spokesperson for the district.

Bunz served as board president at the time of the vote and job application. The job she applied for had duties similar to a Human Resources Director position that Bunz had voted to eliminate one year prior. The former human resources director received a $985,000 settlement after suing the district for alleged wrongful termination. Here is a timeline of relevant events:

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2018 guest authors

The Bleeding Heartland community lost a valued voice this year when Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese passed away in October. As Mike Carberry noted in his obituary for his good friend, Kurt had a tremendous amount on his plate, and I was grateful whenever he found time to share his commentaries in this space. His final post here was a thought-provoking look at his own upbringing and past intimate relationships in light of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Friese was among more than 100 guest authors who produced 202 Bleeding Heartland posts during 2018, shattering the previous record of 164 posts by 83 writers in 2017. I’m thankful for every piece and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, commentary about major news events, personal reflections on events from many years ago, and stories in photographs or cartoons. Some posts were short, while others developed an argument over thousands of words. Pieces by Allison Engel, Randy Richardson, Tyler Higgs, and Matt Chapman were among the most-viewed at the site this year. In the full list, I’ve noted other posts that were especially popular.

Please get in touch if you would like to write about any political topic of local, statewide, or national importance during 2019. If you do not already have a Bleeding Heartland account, I can set one up for you and explain the process. There is no standard format or word limit. I copy-edit for clarity but don’t micromanage how authors express themselves. Although most authors write under their real names, pseudonyms are allowed here and may be advisable for those writing about sensitive topics or whose day job does not permit expressing political views. I ask authors to disclose potential conflicts of interest, such as being are a paid staffer, consultant, or lobbyist promoting any candidate or policy they discuss here.

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Highlights from the Rod Blum ethics investigation

The Office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to believe” Representative Rod Blum failed to accurately report all of his business interests on his disclosure forms, and also “substantial reason to believe” the internet company Tin Moon misused Blum’s official photo and “utilized deceptive, false, or unsubstantiated endorsements.”

In a referral approved in July and first published today, the non-partisan office asked the U.S. House Ethics Committee to further investigate possible violations of “federal law, House rules, and standards of conduct.” The report further recommended that the House committee subpoena Blum and top associates, who refused to cooperate with the OCE review. But don’t expect any more shoes to drop: having lost his re-election bid, Blum will not be subject to the committee’s jurisdiction in a couple of weeks.

The full report and supporting exhibits are well worth reading. I’ve enclosed those documents at the end of this post, along with Blum’s combative response to the findings. Some noteworthy highlights:

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