Four red flags about Iowa Supreme Court applicant Sam Langholz

UPDATE: The commission recommended Mary Chicchelly, David May, and Matthew McDermott. I’ve added below highlights from Langholz’s interview.

Iowa’s State Judicial Nominating Commission will interview candidates to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins on March 6. The fifteen applicants include two finalists Governor Kim Reynolds passed over for the vacancy she filled last month (District Court Judge Joel Barrows and Matthew McDermott) and several who have applied for previous vacancies, such as District Court Judges Mary Chicchelly and Patrick Tott, District Associate Judge Romonda Belcher, Assistant Attorney General Molly Weber, and Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren.

Three applicants have provoked anxiety in Iowa legal circles. Bleeding Heartland discussed some problematic aspects of Ostergren’s record when he applied for a Supreme Court vacancy last year. Guthrie County Attorney Brenna (Findley) Bird previously served as chief of staff for U.S. Representative Steve King and later as Governor Terry Branstad’s legal counsel. In that capacity, a jury found last year, Bird and Branstad violated the constitutional rights of former Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey. While working in the Branstad administration, Bird was also involved in rushing through an effort to ban the use of telemedicine for abortions. The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down that administrative rule in 2015.

The greatest concern has centered on Sam Langholz, the governor’s senior legal counsel. He is widely perceived as Reynolds’ top choice. Thanks to changes in the selection process Langholz helped engineer last year, the governor may have the votes on the State Judicial Nominating Commission to get her subordinate on Iowa’s highest court.

That would be troubling for several reasons.

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Water is our shared lifeblood

Sable Knapp‘s home state is Iowa, and she currently lives in Maine. -promoted by Laura Belin

The human body is two-thirds water, as is the surface of the planet we inhabit. Water quality profoundly affects human health and clean water protections must be upheld. Everyone should be able to have the peace of mind that comes from guaranteed safe, free drinking water.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement works persistently to defend Iowa’s water. By suing the State of Iowa for failing to ensure the safety of Raccoon River, Iowa CCI and Food & Water Watch are sending a strong “No Means No” message to polluters and politicians who authorize the pollution of Iowa’s rivers. Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO, aptly said, “We are completely at the mercy of what gets dumped in our rivers each day.”

The rallying cry “Water is Life” is a fundamental truth. Poet and activist Lyla June evokes this power in her poem “And God is the Water,” which concludes with the words, “I am the rock and God is the water.” The way we care for nature reflects the way we care for ourselves.

As America’s waterways slip further into the hands of corporate players, subsequent pollution continuously affects everyone. Iowa’s elected officials must be held responsible for facilitating the revitalization and protection of the water that flows through Iowa.

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Attacking Nate Boulton's accuser was wrong on every level

The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee convened for less than five minutes on December 20 to consider a complaint filed against Democratic State Senator Nate Boulton. Speaking on behalf of the six committee members (three from each party), Republican Chair Jerry Behn said the committee had not attempted to verify the facts underlying Sharon Wegner’s allegations of sexual misconduct. Rather, they determined the panel had no jurisdiction over matters that occurred before Boulton was elected in November 2016.

Boulton had made that point on the first page of his written response to the complaint. He didn’t need to say anything else to achieve the desired outcome at yesterday’s committee meeting. Instead, he submitted more than 30 pages of written material seeking to discredit his accuser. That was a huge mistake.

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Where Iowa's statewide candidates stand financially before primary

Many Iowa candidates filed their last financial disclosures before the June 5 primary on Friday. Those reports were required for anyone running for governor who raised $10,000 or more between May 15 and 29, for those seeking other statewide offices who raised at least $5,000 during the same time frame, and for state legislative candidates who raised at least $1,000.

Follow me after the jump for highlights on fundraising and spending by all the Democratic and Republican Iowa candidates for governor, state auditor, secretary of state, secretary of agriculture, attorney general, and state treasurer. Bleeding Heartland discussed the previous financial reports on the governor’s race here. Those covered campaign activity from January 1 through May 14.

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The case for each Democrat running for Congress in IA-03

With less than three weeks remaining before the June 5 primary, many Democrats (including myself) are still undecided in the primary to represent Iowa’s third Congressional district. All three candidates left standing in the once-crowded field have raised enough money to run strong, district-wide campaigns.

This post focuses on how Cindy Axne, Pete D’Alessandro, and Eddie Mauro have presented themselves in stump speeches, direct mail, and television commercials aimed at Democratic voters.

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Who's endorsed the seven Democrats running for Congress in IA-03

Seven candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s third Congressional district, where two-term Representative David Young will be a top target for national Democrats and outside groups. Young’s approval rating was below 40 percent in an October survey by Public Policy Polling for Patriot Majority USA. The latest Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register found that 36 percent of respondents in IA-03 would support an unnamed Republican running for Congress, while 35 percent would vote for a Democrat.

This race is wide open, and the nominee may be chosen at a district convention, if no contender receives at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 5 primary. To that end, several candidates are recruiting supporters to attend Iowa Democratic precinct caucuses on February 5. Those caucus-goers will select county convention delegates, and county conventions will select district convention delegates on March 24.

About two-thirds of the Democrats and more than half of all registered voters in IA-03 live in Polk County, containing Des Moines and most of its suburbs. The district’s sixteen counties contain 161,724 active registered Democrats, 173,947 Republicans, and 171,061 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

While many Democratic activists, including myself, haven’t chosen a favorite in this strong field, others have been coming off the fence. Some labor unions or other progressive organizations have started to weigh in too. Last week I asked all seven candidates–Cindy Axne, Pete D’Alessandro, Austin Frerick, Theresa Greenfield, Paul Knupp, Eddie Mauro, and Heather Ryan–for a list of endorsements or prominent supporters.

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