Clerking for a state legislator is a great first job in politics, but here’s a warning to the young and politically involved: sharing your personal views on Facebook can get you fired. Tyler Kingkade has the story at the Iowa State Daily:
Jessica Bruning didn’t think her personal stance on political issues would jeopardize her position as a clerk with Rep. Renee Schulte, R-Linn, in the Iowa legislature. However, after a Facebook post bucked the Republican party’s stance on the impeachment of the state Supreme Court justices, she quickly found herself out of a job.
She had been told to “tone it down” after the State of the Judiciary speech by Chief Justice Mark Cady, where she took part in standing ovations along with Democrats.
During the 2010 election season, Bruning worked for the Branstad-Reynolds campaign but often shared information on Facebook about Justice Not Politics – a bipartisan group formed to advocate retention of the justices. […]
Bruning continued to share articles and information in support of the justices after the elections as House Republicans began talk of impeaching the remaining judges.
But after a Facebook post in January, the next thing Bruning knew she was let go from her position as a clerk. She said she currently cannot go into further details on the event.
Technically, the Iowa House Republican caucus isn’t committed to impeaching the four remaining justices who concurred in the Varnum v Brien ruling on marriage. In fact, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rich “we want to drive procreation” Anderson has said he doubts articles of impeachment would clear his committee. Nevertheless, I’m not surprised that Bruning got fired by criticizing the impeachment drive, especially after she stood up to applaud Chief Justice Cady. His speech wasn’t warmly received by the House Republican caucus.
To me, the most surprising thing about this story is that Bruning was hired as a clerk for Schulte despite having criticized the anti-retention drive during the campaign. To my knowledge, not a single Iowa GOP lawmaker or legislative candidate advocated voting to retain the three Supreme Court justices on the ballot. Speaking to Kingkade,
Bruning said young people are often told throughout their years in school to get involved and voice their opinion, “Then when I post a simple Facebook status, I get fired. They’re conflicting messages.”
That’s the way the cookie crumbles if your Facebook status goes against your political party’s dominant view. If Bruning had been lambasting the justices on social media, or bashing impeachment while clerking for a Democratic state representative, she’d still have a job today.
UPDATE: Schulte disputes Bruning’s account but declined to specify why the clerk was sacked:
Two weeks ago, Schulte gave The Des Moines Register a brief statement about Bruning’s assertion, deferring additional questions to House Republican leadership.
“The short answer is no,” she was not fired for supporting same-sex marriage rights, Schulte told the Register. “Basically she’s an at-will employee. It could be for any reason. It makes me sad that she thinks that that’s why.”