# Matt Whitaker



The 21 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2021

It’s time for another review of Bleeding Heartland’s most widely-read posts from the year that just ended. I always struggle a bit with this task, because the work I’m most proud of doesn’t always overlap with what resonated most with readers. Also, I’m wary of watching traffic numbers too closely, because I try not to let potential clicks drive my editorial decisions.

However, I always gain some insight from this review, so here goes.

This list draws from Google Analytics data about total views for 598 posts this website published during 2021: 362 written by me and 236 by other authors. I left out the site’s front page and the “about” page, where many people landed following online searches.

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Matt Whitaker paid well to lobby for Trump pardons

Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker earned $400,000 last year to advocate for President Donald Trump to issue pardons and commutations, Roger Sollenberger revealed in a December 1 scoop for the Daily Beast. The conservative group FreedomWorks, a 501(c)4 organization that does not disclose its donors, reported the expenditure to the IRS as covering “consulting services” for Whitaker, an independent contractor.

FreedomWorks announced in March 2020 that Whitaker would chair a new project “which aims to recommend deserving individuals” for pardons and commutations. Sollenberger noted,

That role raises a number of ethical questions for Whitaker. He was directly involved in White House clemency negotiations possibly as late as Trump’s last full day in office, but never registered as a lobbyist while advocating for pardons—and FreedomWorks never named clemency issues in any of its 2020 lobbying reports.

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IA-Sen: Matt Whitaker bolsters Trumpworld credentials

Although Senator Chuck Grassley is in no hurry to announce his future plans, former acting U.S. Attorney General Matt Whitaker continues to lay the groundwork for a possible U.S. Senate bid in 2022.

He speaks at GOP gatherings around Iowa, most recently the Johnson County Republican fundraiser on May 5. And perhaps more important for his future prospects, Whitaker helped create the America First Legal organization, which will regularly engage the Biden administration in fights sure to please the Republican base.

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Mariannette Miller-Meeks refuses interview with masked reporter

U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks has been on the road and on social media encouraging Iowans to get vaccinated for COVID-19, sometimes even administering the shots herself.

In a video released on May 4, Miller-Meeks highlighted her medical background and advocated for vaccines as a way of “getting our lives back to normal,” while acknowledging that getting a shot “is your decision to make.”

She was less tolerant of personal choices when approached the next day by a journalist seeking an interview.

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As Grassley weighs 2022 plans, either path entails political risks

A new Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register and Mediacom contained shocking numbers: 55 percent of respondents, including 35 percent of Republicans surveyed, hope U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley does not run again in 2022. Just 28 percent of respondents (50 percent of Republicans) hope he will run for an eighth Senate term.

The same poll measured Grassley’s job approval at 48 percent, the lowest in this survey since 1982. Selzer polls routinely found Grassley’s approval to be above 70 percent during the 2000s and above 60 percent during the first half of the 2010s, a graph published in the Des Moines Register shows.

Although Grassley would be a prohibitive favorite to win again, the new numbers indicate widespread unease about the senator’s capacity to serve another six-year term.

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The politics of Ashley Hinson's balancing act in IA-01

Eighth in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

During her first six weeks serving in the U.S. House, Representative Ashley Hinson has been speaking in two distinct voices.

In many public statements, she has positioned herself as a unifier within the House Republican caucus and Congress at large, willing to work with anyone for the benefit of her constituents. Meanwhile, she has regularly demonized Democrats as threats to America, especially when speaking to perceived supporters or on conservative platforms.

The dual messaging reflects Hinson’s dependence on Donald Trump’s base in a swing district where future Republican victories are not assured.

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