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IPERS Tries to Ease Concerns About Frozen Assets - Page 6 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 06 March 2009 14:48

Ethics Complaint Dismissed Against Dolores Mertz

The Iowa House Ethics Committee on Monday unanimously dismissed an ethics complaint against state Representative Dolores Mertz, saying her ties to the factory-farm industry and her chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee do not rise to the level of being a conflict of interest.

"It lacks specificity on what's been done other than she's been chair and she has ties to the factory-farm industry," said Representative Scott Raecker (R-Urbandale) of the complaint endorsed by 125 members and supporters of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI).

CCI filed the complaint saying that Mertz has family and financial ties to the factory-farm industry. Her sons, Peter and David, own and operate a 4,000-head hog factory in Kossuth County. The complaint also accused Mertz of having a well-documented history of supporting legislation that favors factory farms, and cited state legislators as saying that bills which that would crack down on factory farms will go nowhere as long as Mertz remains chair.

Dozens of CCI members packed the committee room for the 90-minute meeting about the rare ethics complaint.

"The decision today is a travesty against the people, against justice," said Larry Ginter, a family farmer from Rhodes. "They're washing this under the rug, under the table, and it's wrong. ... We are outraged about this decision. It's business as usual down here at the Statehouse. And people are tired of not getting justice out here about clean air and clean water and a little local control, and we're not getting that from these legislators. It's wrong."

Mertz (D-Ottosen), who is serving her 21st year in the legislature, said she was relieved the ethics complaint was dismissed. She called the complaint "a big slap in my face" because she said she tries to do what's right and best for the state. However, she said she wasn't shocked by the ethics complaint against her because CCI has been after her for years.

"They have threatened to shoot me -- I have that tape at home yet -- they have threatened to burn my boys' hog houses down, they ran me off the road a year ago. Good thing it was a shallow ditch -- I drove in and drove out," Mertz said. "I've never really done anything about that because I think, ‘Oh, those things will all subside, I'll be OK. I'm a tough person and strong person.'"

Hugh Espey, executive director of Iowa CCI, called Mertz's accusations false, off-the-wall, libelous, and slanderous against Iowa CCI. "Those are just absolutely false. They're wildly ludicrous. There's no basis in fact for that," Espey said. "We're about fighting for justice. Violence does not play into our strategies."

This weekly summary comes from IowaPolitics.com, an online government and politics news service. IowaPolitics.com staff contributed to this report.

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