Republican pretexts for rejecting Iowa maps don't hold up

As expected, Iowa Senate Republicans rejected the first nonpartisan redistricting plan on a party-line 32 to 18 vote on October 5. Everyone knows why the maps went down: national Republicans were upset the plan would have created a Democratic-leaning Congressional district in eastern Iowa, and Senate Republicans were bent out of shape because many of their incumbents would have been placed in districts with one another.

Republicans couldn’t say that out loud, though, because Iowa’s redistricting law states, “No district shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator or member of Congress, or other person or group […].”

So in Senate floor speeches and a resolution approved along party lines, Republicans asserted that the Legislative Services Agency could better balance compactness and population equality standards. They provided little evidence in support of those vague complaints.

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Democrat Eric Van Lancker running for secretary of state

Iowa Democrats have their first confirmed candidate for secretary of state in 2022. Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker announced on September 15 that he will seek the office, saying in a news release that he has a “passion for helping my neighbors vote, backed up by experience and an understanding of how to run elections the right way.”

Alluding to Republican incumbent Paul Pate, Van Lancker said in the statement,

“Iowans have never needed a voting advocate more than they do at this moment […]”

“Voters pay for the election system and they deserve to have leadership that builds confidence in the system instead of undermining it for short-term political points,” Van Lancker said. “It is long past time for a County Auditor to return to the Secretary of State’s office. Iowa voters deserve a state commissioner of elections who knows what it is like to be on the front lines of an election and has respect and knowledge of the work precinct election officials perform during an election.”

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Investigation found no Heritage Action lobbying of Iowa governor

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board on August 12 formally closed its investigation of Heritage Action for America, after finding no evidence the national conservative group lobbied Governor Kim Reynolds’ office earlier this year.

The board, which is charged with enforcing state laws on lobbying the executive branch, authorized executive director Mike Marshall in May to review possible undisclosed lobbying by Heritage Action. Mother Jones had recently published video of the group’s leader bragging to donors about working “quickly” and “quietly” to help write Iowa’s new election law.

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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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