Attorney sues over dismissal of ethics complaint on Kim Reynolds flights

Des Moines attorney Gary Dickey has filed a lawsuit seeking to force Iowa’s campaign regulator to consider whether Governor Kim Reynolds’ campaign undervalued private jet flights reported as in-kind donations. Dickey maintains that the fair market value of travel between Des Moines and Memphis far exceeds the $2,880 listed on Reynolds campaign filings after the governor’s family flew on a state vendor’s plane to watch Iowa State University’s football team play in the Liberty Bowl. The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board unanimously dismissed his formal complaint as “legally insufficient” last month.

Dickey’s lawsuit declares that action “not only incorrect” but also “indefensible.”

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Iowa lawmaker allowed to use campaign funds to rent building he owns

State Representative Mike Sexton may continue to spend $400 each month in campaign funds to rent part of a building he owns, Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board executive director Megan Tooker has determined.

As Bleeding Heartland reported in August, Sexton stored campaign materials for free at his home for nearly two years after re-entering political life. While running for re-election to Iowa House district 10 in 2016, the Republican lawmaker began renting space for his campaign in one of two commercial buildings he and his wife had recently purchased. As of July 2018, the real estate company registered by Rebecca Sexton had received a total of $11,200 from the campaign.

I brought the matter to Tooker’s attention because although an administrative rule allows the use of campaign funds for office expenses, including rent and utilities, I had never seen an Iowa lawmaker or legislative candidate spend so much for that purpose. I questioned whether $400 per month reflected the fair market value for storage and office space in Calhoun County, as required by Iowa law. In addition, I thought the campaign expenditures might be construed as delivering a “personal benefit,” since the payments would either supplement the Sextons’ household income or cover part of the contract on the couple’s real estate investment.

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Seven riveting passages from Politico's profile of Kent Sorenson

Anyone who has followed Iowa politics during the past decade must read Tim Alberta’s profile of former State Senator Kent Sorenson in the latest edition of Politico Magazine. “Kent Sorenson Was a Tea Party Hero. Then He Lost Everything” is fascinating from beginning to end, so I strongly encourage clicking through to read the whole piece.

Having covered Sorenson’s legislative career and intensely disagreed with nearly everything he stood for, I was genuinely moved to learn how his outlook has changed over the past few years. Some passages that caught my eye are after the jump.

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Attorney: Ethics board erred in dismissing complaint on Reynolds flights

Des Moines attorney Gary Dickey has asked the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board to reconsider its recent vote to dismiss his complaint related to free private plane flights provided to Governor Kim Reynolds and her family last year. The Reynolds campaign received prior approval from ethics board executive director Megan Tooker that the flights could be declared as an in-kind campaign contribution and would not be considered a violation of Iowa’s gift law.

David North, CEO of the Sedgwick corporation, covered the cost of travel to and from Memphis on December 30, 2017. In a complaint filed last week, Dickey asserted that the Reynolds campaign “underreported the fair market value” of that private jet service. If the board does not reconsider its decision, Dickey plans to appeal the agency’s action to district court.

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IA-Gov: New Register poll points to winning paths for Hubbell, Reynolds

If Iowans were voting for governor today, 43 percent would support Democrat Fred Hubbell and 41 percent Governor Kim Reynolds, according to a new poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom. Another 9 percent of the 555 likely voters surveyed were undecided, and 7 percent backed Libertarian Jake Porter. The poll validates the view of leading election forecasters that the governor’s race is a toss-up. Selzer’s poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 points.

If this snapshot of the race accurately reflects the views of Iowans likely to vote in November, I’d rather be Hubbell than Reynolds. An incumbent barely above 40 percent despite much higher name recognition than her opponent is not in a strong position. Nevertheless, the Register’s survey points to ways either Reynolds or Hubbell could improve their prospects during the final six weeks of the campaign.

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