Revised lawsuit challenges Iowa's newest voter suppression law

Plaintiffs challenging Iowa’s manifold new restrictions on voting amended their complaint on June 9 to incorporate provisions in a law Governor Kim Reynolds signed the previous day.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa (LULAC) filed suit in Polk County District Court in March, charging that Senate File 413 violated Iowa constitutional provisions on the right to vote, free speech, free assembly, and equal protection. Their revised petition asks the court to invalidate two sections of Senate File 568 as well as thirteen sections of the law enacted earlier this year.

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Scott County Democrats face huge organizing challenge

Scott County’s three Republican supervisors voted on May 25 to appoint Kerri Tompkins as the county’s new auditor, having considered no other candidates for the position, and giving members of the public no opportunity to comment.

The vacancy arose when Democratic Auditor Roxanna Moritz resigned just a few months into a four-year term. The three Republicans on the five-member board did not solicit applications for the vacancy or interview candidates. Rather, they decided to appoint Tompkins in a backroom deal, possibly violating Iowa’s open records law in the process.

The two Democrats on the Board of Supervisors wanted to hold a special election to determine Moritz’s replacement, but they didn’t have the votes to make it happen.

Local Democrats are trying to petition for a special election. But a law Republicans enacted earlier this year will make that task much more difficult.

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Scott County deserves honesty and transparency, not John Maxwell

Lorraine Meriner explains why Scott County Supervisor John Maxwell’s possible violation of Iowa’s open meeting law must be formally investigated. -promoted by Laura Belin

On the morning of May 25, the Scott County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting to appoint a new county auditor to succeed Roxanna Moritz, who stepped down last month. According to Iowa’s open meetings law, if a majority of a governmental body’s members meet, their meeting must be publicly announced at least 24 hours in advance and must be held in “open session,” accessible to the public. In addition, meeting minutes must be made publicly available.

The law allows for closed sessions in some extenuating circumstances. Although the five supervisors met in open session on Tuesday, board vice chair John Maxwell’s contradictory recent comments to local reporters suggest that the board’s three Republican members violated open meeting law just days prior.

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Iowa board approves formal probe of Heritage Action lobbying

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board voted on May 26 to authorize a formal staff investigation of possible undisclosed lobbying of Governor Kim Reynolds’ office by the conservative group Heritage Action for America.

The board’s executive director and legal counsel Mike Marshall had been informally investigating the matter after Mother Jones published video of Heritage Action’s executive director bragging about helping to write voter suppression laws in Iowa and other states. Jessica Anderson told donors at a private meeting in April that her group had “worked quietly” with Iowa lawmakers to help draft and support a new election bill, getting it passed with “little fanfare.” But the Washington, DC based organization, which is affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, hadn’t registered a position on the bill or filed reports required of those who lobby state government.

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Iowa regulator investigating DC group's undisclosed lobbying

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board is seeking further information on Heritage Action for America‘s efforts to lobby state government. The Associated Press was first to report on May 14 that the agency’s top staffer Mike Marshall asked Heritage Action’s executive director Jessica Anderson for details on her Iowa government contacts.

The previous day, leaked video showed Anderson bragging to Heritage donors that her group had “worked quietly” with Iowa lawmakers to help draft and support a new election bill, getting it passed with “little fanfare.”

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Key Iowa GOP lawmaker denies DC group helped write election law

A leading Republican author of Iowa’s new election law has denied that Washington, DC-based Heritage Action for America helped write or pass any part of the bill.

In a leaked video obtained by Documented and published by Mother Jones on May 13, Heritage Action’s executive director Jessica Anderson claimed the group worked “quickly” and “quietly” on the bill Governor Kim Reynolds signed in March, which limits voting in many ways.

State Representative Bobby Kaufmann, who floor managed Senate File 413 in the Iowa House, told Bleeding Heartland in a May 13 telephone interview, “Any insinuation by Heritage that they had anything to do with this bill is a bald-faced lie.”

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