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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The 19 Bleeding Heartland posts I worked hardest on in 2019

Five years ago, I started taking stock of my most labor-intensive posts near the end of each year. Not all of these are my favorite projects, though invariably, some of my favorites end up on these compilations.

Before getting to the countdown for 2019, I want to give another shout out to guest authors who poured an extraordinary amount of work into two posts Bleeding Heartland published last year.

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Matt Whitaker stumped for ruling party in Kosovo

When Bleeding Heartland last checked in on former acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker, he had landed three new jobs: managing director of the Kansas-City based political consulting firm Clout Public Affairs, “of counsel” with the Graves Garrett law firm, and outside counsel for what CNN’s Kevin Collier described as a “not-top tier antivirus company.”

Last week, Whitaker campaigned for the ruling political party in Kosovo, a former province of Serbia.

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Where are they now? Matt Whitaker edition

Matt Whitaker will become a managing director for the Kansas City-based Clout Public Affairs consulting firm, Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News was first to report on August 1. Whitaker served as chief of staff for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a little more than a year before President Donald Trump named him acting attorney general in November 2018, flouting a federal law and a constitutional requirement that anyone holding that position be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Whitaker stepped down as acting attorney general in February, after the Senate confirmed William Barr. He was “counselor in the associate attorney general’s office” for just a few weeks before leaving the Justice Department in early March. Jacobs tweeted on August 1, “There was speculation Trump would appoint Whitaker to another admin job, but the president so far hasn’t made any moves to do so, I’m told.”

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Hy-Vee's largest political donation in a decade preceded Trump event

Editor’s note: Hy-Vee’s PAC provided a comment on June 24, which is enclosed in full at the end of this post.

Great catch and great digging by Gwen Hope. -promoted by Laura Belin

Hy-Vee is one of those companies we often associate with small-town, everyone-knows-everyone “Iowa Nice” culture. Yet it’s important to remember that while some major Iowa businesses started small, many are no longer those small-town startups of yesteryear. Hy-Vee is no exception, having just made a conveniently-timed donation that was its largest single political contribution in a decade.

Like many livestock farmers, state businesses fill their animal troughs with corn and silage, but the resulting pork is of the political persuasion variety. In this vein, I looked into the fundraiser1 for the Republican Party of Iowa (RPI), held at Hy-Vee’s Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines. President Donald Trump headlined the June 11 event.

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Reynolds, GOP killed way to reduce racial, economic disparities in Iowa courts

Governor Kim Reynolds made headlines last week with two vetoes: blocking language targeting the attorney general, and rejecting a medical cannabis bill that had strong bipartisan support in both chambers.

A provision she didn’t veto drew little attention. For the foreseeable future, it will prevent Iowa courts from using a tool designed to make the criminal justice system more fair to defendants of all races and income levels.

Reynolds should appreciate the value of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), since she works closely with two former State Public Defenders: Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg and the governor’s senior legal counsel Sam Langholz. But last year she ordered a premature end to a pilot program introducing the tool in four counties. The governor’s staff did not reply to repeated inquiries about the reasoning behind Reynolds’ stance on this policy.

Notably, the owner of Iowa’s largest bail bonding company substantially increased his giving to GOP candidates during the last election cycle, donating $10,100 to the governor’s campaign and $28,050 to Republicans serving in the state legislature.

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