Revised GOP election bill would exclude thousands more Iowa voters

On a party-line vote of 30 to 18, the Iowa Senate on February 23 approved Senate File 413, a new version of a bill that would restrict every aspect of the early voting process. The following day, the Iowa House approved the bill on a party-line 57 to 37 vote. Governor Kim Reynolds is expected to sign the bill; Republican Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have each endorsed limits on early voting in recent days.

Although State Senator Roby Smith’s amendment addressed a few of the concerns raised by county auditors and advocates for vulnerable populations, the revised legislation would make it even harder for thousands of Iowans to have their absentee ballots counted. In a new twist, it shortens election-day voting hours as well.

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Randy Feenstra's selective concern for farmers

Andy Kopsa: Iowa’s new member of Congress from the fourth district brags that he “delivers for farmers.” Unless you are a Black farmer, that is. -promoted by Laura Belin

Politicians love farmers. Every caucus season they prove it: they throw a foot up on a hay bale and stump to a crowd at the Iowa State Fair, shove a pork chop into their mouth, use the term “heartland” and “kitchen table” a minimum of 400 times.

Vice President Mike Pence and the Iowa GOP love farmers so much that he came to town just after the August 2020 derecho to launch the Farmers and Ranchers for Trump Coalition. Senator Joni Ernst and Governor Kim Reynolds took time out of their disaster recovery schedule to accompany Pence to Living History [not a real] Farms. Pence didn’t visit a single farm, but he found time to host an exclusive fundraiser in Urbandale before flying away home.

U.S. Representative Randy Feenstra (IA-04) also loves farmers a lot. He introduced an amendment to allocate more aid to Iowans impacted by the derecho last year during a House Agriculture Committee markup of the proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. Feenstra’s amendment passed by a single vote.

That vote came from Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03), the lone Democrat to cross the aisle.

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Seven Republicans showed the courage Iowa's senators lacked

Seven U.S. Senate Republicans joined all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in voting on February 13 to convict former President Trump on the sole count of incitement of insurrection. Although the number who voted guilty fell ten short of the 67 needed to disqualify Trump from holding any future office, it was the most bipartisan Senate vote on impeachment in U.S. history.

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What Ernst and Grassley are telling Iowans about impeachment

UPDATE: As expected, Iowa’s senators voted to acquit Trump. Their statements explaining that decision are posted here. Original post follows.

Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began on February 9, with House Democrats arguing it is constitutional and necessary to convict the former president, and lawyers for Trump making a less coherent case that the trial is unconstitutional.

Even if you are not inclined to watch the full four hours of the proceedings, every American should watch the 13-minute, graphic video montage of the January 6 coup attempt, as well as Representative Jamie Raskin’s heartbreaking account of that day at the Capitol. These words from Raskin offered the most concise case for conviction: “This cannot be the future of America. We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilizing mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people.”

All 50 Democratic senators and six Republicans voted late in the day that Trump is “subject to a court of impeachment for acts committed while president.” The other 44 Republicans, including Iowa’s Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, voted against the premise of this trial.

Neither Ernst nor Grassley released any statement explaining their vote, and they didn’t mention the impeachment proceedings on their social media feeds. However, form letters sent directly to Iowans in recent weeks shed light on how the senators will likely justify their votes to acquit, which are a foregone conclusion.

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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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