Exclusive: Test Iowa vendor gave officials talking points for PR video

Governor Kim Reynolds and other officials with important roles in Iowa’s COVID-19 response received talking points from Domo, Inc. before filming a promotional video for the company on state property last July.

The Utah-based firm, part of a group that received a $26 million no-bid contract to create the Test Iowa program, provided each interview subject with questions and “key statements” in advance, documents Bleeding Heartland received through a public records request show. State Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the governor’s chief operating officer Paul Trombino, and others voiced some of those messages on camera.

Despite official claims that “no state resources were used” for the video, email records indicate two of the governor’s staffers spent time on preparations such as securing permissions to use different areas of the state capitol building. In addition, Trombino asked Dr. Michael Pentella, director of the State Hygienic Laboratory, to participate in the Test Iowa video.

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Rest in peace, Mary Maloney

Democrats all over Iowa were saddened by the news that Polk County Treasurer Mary Maloney died unexpectedly on January 29. Many who offered their condolences on social media described Maloney as a true public servant. Her work since 1989 to modernize the treasurer’s office and keep it running smoothly was highly regarded. She was often the highest vote-getter in Iowa’s largest county when she was on the ballot, even outperforming other Polk County officials who ran for re-election unopposed.

Many personal friends and colleagues remarked on how kind and caring Maloney was. I’ve enclosed some remembrances below. Although I didn’t know Maloney well, her kindness came through in all of my interactions with her over the years.

The Bleeding Heartland community sends healing thoughts to all of Mary Maloney’s loved ones, especially her husband and four children.

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State auditor to review Iowa's COVID-19 "strike teams"

State Auditor Rob Sand announced on January 26 that his office will examine the state’s use of COVID-19 “strike teams” involving the Iowa National Guard. A news release noted,

Reports show public record emails in which a metal-working manufacturer owned by major donors to Governor Reynolds received a strike team deployment upon a personal request made to her office, while the same county’s public health department saw its requests for locations with higher needs ignored.

Bleeding Heartland exclusively reported on those emails. In one exchange, an employee of the GMT Corporation in Waverly told Bremer County’s public health administrator, “I requested testing and was told that we would most likely be denied with only one case. Our owners contacted the governor directly and she authorized the testing for us.”

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Rob Sand may run for higher office in 2022; Cindy Axne non-committal

Following another devastating election up and down the ballot, Iowa Democrats have begun to speculate about the next political cycle. Governor Kim Reynolds will be up for re-election, and Iowa’s other U.S. Senate seat will be on the ballot.

State Auditor Rob Sand hasn’t ruled out running for governor, Senate, or re-election in 2022, he told viewers of an “ask me anything” Facebook session on December 10. “Any of those three would be possibilities.”

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The long game: Where does winning in rural Iowa begin?

Glenn Hurst: Democrats cannot hope to build their bench if they undervalue down-ballot elected positions and concede those offices to Republicans. -promoted by Laura Belin

The Iowa Democratic Party needs to reconsider its strategy for winning elections in Iowa. Republicans have a stronghold on the governor’s office, the state legislature and the majority of Iowa’s Congressional delegation. They now dominate the Iowa Senate and have long controlled the majority in the House.

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Get ready for an election contest in IA-02

All 24 counties in Iowa’s second Congressional district have recounted their votes, but the race between Democrat Rita Hart and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks is far from over.

Trackers including Pat Rynard of Iowa Starting Line and Tom Barton of the Quad-City Times reached the same conclusion: once all counties submit their new numbers to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, Miller-Meeks will have a six-vote lead out of more than 394,000 ballots cast. Rynard posted vote changes in each county since election day here. The two candidates’ vote share is identical to the one-hundredth of a percent (49.91 percent).

The Miller-Meeks campaign’s lawyer Alan Ostergren declared victory after Clinton County’s recount board finished its work on November 28. The Republican candidate said in a written statement, “While this race is extraordinarily close, I am proud to have won this contest and look forward to being certified as the winner by the state’s Executive Council on Monday.”

Three Republicans (Governor Kim Reynolds, Secretary of State Paul Pate, and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig) and two Democrats (State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald and State Auditor Rob Sand) serve on the Executive Council. Assuming that body certifies the result, an election contest is extremely likely.

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