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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Dark money group spent $1.25 million pushing MidAmerican's solar bill

A group that popped up this year to support MidAmerican Energy’s solar bill spent $1.25 million on television commercials alone, as well as at least $11,000 on Facebook advertising and an undisclosed sum on direct mail.

The REAL Coalition conceals its donors and board members but appears to be funded primarily by utility companies and the industry’s trade association.

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Where things stand with MidAmerican's bad solar bill

As state lawmakers wrap up their work for 2019, one of the biggest question marks surrounds MidAmerican Energy’s push to make future solar development unaffordable for most Iowa homeowners and small businesses.

Four weeks after the bill cleared the Iowa Senate, it is still hung up in the House, where a group of Republicans recently took an unusual step to signal their opposition.

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