Politics & Elections
PATE NAMED "FRIEND OF IOWA BUSINESS" PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Paid for by Pate for Iowa   
Monday, 06 October 2014 09:34

ENDORSED BY IOWA ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS & INDUSTRY

(Cedar Rapids, IA)  Today, former Iowa Secretary of State and Mayor of Cedar Rapids, Paul D. Pate has been named a "Friend of Iowa Business" by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry in his bid to become Iowa's next Secretary of State.

"Paul Pate has demonstrated a commitment to improving Iowa's business and regulatory climate so that employers can create more jobs and grow the economy," ABI President Michael Ralston said.
ABI is comprised of more than 1,400 companies that employ more than 300,000 Iowans. As "The Voice of Iowa Business Since 1903", ABI works to enhance the Iowa business climate to foster growth and prosperity for all Iowans.  IIPAC evaluates candidates based on their support for a competitive business climate with a focus on creating Iowa jobs. Criteria used to make the designations include the candidates' positions on issues based on questionnaire responses as well as interviews with members of IIPAC Board. The selections are made by the IIPAC board, which is made of 11 bipartisan ABI members from across Iowa.

Pate, "I'm proud to have the continued support of Iowa's leading business association and proof positive that my business record and plan to improve the business services division of the Secretary of State's office is what Iowa's entrepreneurs need."

A nationally recognized business leader by the Small Business Administration, Pate is the owner of a paving construction firm and recently served as Mayor of Cedar Rapids from 2002 -2006.  While Mayor, Pate was elected President of the non-partisan Iowa League of Cities representing over 870 municipalities.  Previously, he served as Iowa Secretary of State from 1995-1999 and represented NE Cedar Rapids, Marion and parts of Linn, Buchanan and Delaware Counties in the Iowa Senate from 1989-1995.

Pate is a lifelong Iowa resident, born in Ottumwa, growing up in Linn County.

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Harkin Continues Legacy Tour PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Friday, 03 October 2014 14:55

Events highlighting Harkin’s investments in Iowa

Davenport, Ames, Creston, Atlantic, Des Moines

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced several events in Iowa this week designed to complement a legacy tour announced earlier this summer. A full list of his public events follows.

Friday, October 3 – Davenport
4:00 P.M.        ATEEC Interactive Learning Lab
Location: Eastern Iowa Community Colleges
201 N. Harrison Street
Suite 102

Davenportd

Senator Harkin will visit the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) Interactive Learning Lab at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges to tour the center’s labs and education centers. ATEEC is a National Center of Excellence that promotes and supports environmental and energy technology education to address the needs of the national and global workforce. Harkin has long supported community college and higher education initiatives. Since 2007, Harkin has secured more than $570,000 to purchase equipment and to build an additional center at ATEEC that includes a hands-on learning lab, office space, and college and K-12 classrooms to teach and expand development and use of sustainable energy.

 
Jacobs earns support from Tri-City Building & Construction Trades Council PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Rory Washburn   
Friday, 03 October 2014 13:44

19 separate local labor unions vote to endorse Jacobs for Senate

ROCK ISLAND- The Tri-City Building & Construction Trades Council and its 19 Quad City-area labor unions are proud to announce their support of Mike Jacobs’ reelection for Illinois State Senate.

“Mike Jacobs’ experience and persistence are proven assets for the 36th District,” said Rory Washburn, Executive Director of the Tri-City Building & Construction Trades Council. “Mike Jacobs is committed to the economic development of our region. We have seen this with the construction dollars he has worked tirelessly to secure for projects like Western Illinois University Quad Cities-Riverfront Campus, Kone Center and the Thomson Prison.”

“His unwavering support helps provide our members opportunities to support their families and this community in positive ways,” said Washburn. “We believe Mike Jacobs’ firm commitment has earned him the opportunity to continue serving the people of the 36th Senate District.”

Labor unions who support Mike Jacobs include the following:

Boilermakers Local 60

Bricklayers Local 6

Chicago Carpenters District Council

Cement Masons Local 18

Electricians Local 34

Electricians Local 145

Electricians Local 176

Elevators Constructors Local 33

Glaziers Local 581

Insulators Local 81

Ironworkers Local 111

Millwrights Local 2158

Operating Engineers Local 150

Painters Local 502

Plasterers Local 18

Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 25

Roofers Local 32

Sheet Metal Workers Local 91

Sprinkler Fitters Local 669

 
Did Joni Ernst Violate Iowa Conflict of Interest Laws? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by American Democracy Press   
Friday, 03 October 2014 13:31
The American Democracy Legal Fund has filed a complaint with Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller requesting his office investigate whether Joni Ernst violated Iowa conflict of interest laws while serving as Montgomery County Auditor and the county’s Chief Financial Officer for its flood disaster assistance operation while her father secured county contracts for his construction business. Under Iowa law, county officers or employees are prohibited from having “an interest, direct or indirect, in a contract with that county.” Ernst appears to have had an interest in the contracts awarded to her father’s company as a result of their familial relationship.

The full complaint and associated exhibits are available here.

The American Democracy Legal Fund is a group established by David Brock and run by Brad Woodhouse to hold candidates for office accountable for possible ethics and/or legal violations.


American Democracy Legal Fund

455 Massachusetts Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20001

Honorable Tom Miller

Iowa Attorney General

1305 E. Walnut Street

Des Moines, IA 50319

 

Dear Mr. Miller:

The American Democracy Legal Fund (“ADLF”) respectfully requests that your office investigate whether Joni Ernst violated Iowa conflict of interest laws while serving as Montgomery County Auditor and the county’s Chief Financial Officer for its flood disaster assistance operation as her father, Richard Culver, secured county contracts for his construction business.

Background

Ms. Ernst was elected as Montgomery County Auditor in November 2004, and continued in that position until January 2011.[1] In June 2007, Ms. Ernst also was named the Chief Financial Officer for the county’s flood disaster assistance operation.[2] In those roles, Ms. Ernst was involved in supervising the process for awarding county construction contracts, and was responsible for initiating contract bid notices and soliciting proposals for county contracts.[3]

During Ms. Ernst’s tenure, Montgomery County awarded a total of $215,665 in government contracts to Culver Construction, owned by Ms. Ernst’s father, Richard Culver.[4] Notably, Culver Construction’s winning bids regularly came in just under those of other bids, and Culver Construction does not appear to have received any county contracts prior to Ms. Ernst’s assuming her position as auditor.

Culver Construction apparently was awarded its first county contract in April 2009.  According to the minutes of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, the county awarded Culver Construction a FEMA grant contract for $40,428, the “low quote” for the project.[5] A few months later, in August 2009, Culver Construction was awarded another FEMA grant contract, this one for $63,501.[6] The county received two quotes for this contract, and Culver Construction’s was “approximately $10,000 under the second bidder.”[7] In October 2009, Culver Construction was awarded a FEMA repair project contract for $32,425 after reportedly coming in with the lowest bid.[8]

With Ms. Ernst still serving as County Auditor, Montgomery County awarded Culver Construction three more contracts in 2010.  In April 2010, Culver Construction was awarded a Department of Homeland Security grant contract for $10,871, just $680 below the next lowest bidder.[9] A few days later, Culver Construction was awarded a $59,480 contract for a FEMA grant project.[10] In that instance, there were two bids, and Culver’s was $6,513.96 less than the other bid of $65,993.96.[11] Even as Ms. Ernst was running for state senate in December 2010,[12] Montgomery County awarded Culver Construction another FEMA contract, this one for $8,960, to repair three flood damaged sites.[13]

Legal Analysis

Under Iowa law, county officers or employees are prohibited from having “an interest, direct or indirect, in a contract with that county.” Iowa Code Ann. § 331.342(2).  Ms. Ernst appears to have an indirect interest in the contract’s awarded to her father’s company as a result of their familial relationship.

While § 331.342(2) does not define a direct or indirect interest, Iowa has a long history of broadly interpreting conflict of interest laws.  As the state Supreme Court made clear in Wilson v. City of Iowa City: “We doubt if any rule of law has more longevity than that which condemns conflicts between the public and private interests of governmental officials and employees nor any which has been more consistently and rigidly applied.”  165 N.W.2d 813, 822 (Iowa 1969).  The “well-established and salutary rule” that a person “who is entrusted with the business of others cannot be allowed to make such business an object of pecuniary profit to himself . . . does not depend upon reason technical in character and is not local in its application.”  Bay v. Davidson, 111 N.W. 25, 26 (Iowa 1907).  The rationale for conflict of interest rules, Iowa courts repeatedly have asserted, is “a man cannot serve two masters [because] . . . [a] temptation would be offered . . . to disregard his public duty, and yield to the temptation of personal interest.”  James v. City of Hamburg, 156 N.W. 394, 309-10 (Iowa 1916); see also, e.g., Wilson, 165 N.W.2d at 819.

Wilson demonstrates how broadly Iowa interprets conflict of interest statutes.  That case considered whether section 403.16 of the Iowa Code, which provided that “no public official or employee of a municipality . . . shall voluntarily acquire any personal interest, direct or indirect, in any urban renewal project,” barred members of a city council from voting on an urban renewal project in which they had financial and other interests.  165 N.W.2d at 817.  Looking to the purposes of conflict of interest laws, the Court decided one council member had a conflict of interest simply because he held “positions of responsibility” with the University of Iowa, which was vitally interested in the urban renewal project.  Id. at 821-24.  A public employee’s interest does not have to be financial, or even that the official “sought or gained” a private “advantage,” the Court concluded.  Id. at 822.  “It is the potential for conflict of interest which the law desires to avoid.”  Id. (emphasis in original); see also Iowa Farm Bureau Fed’n v. Envtl. Prot. Comm’n, 850 N.W.2d 403, 415 (Iowa 2014).

The conflict of interest statute here prohibits a county employee from having a direct or indirect interest in a contract with the county.  Ms. Ernst appears to have had at least an indirect interest in contracts Montgomery County awarded to her father’s company while she served in a public position involving county contracts.  At a minimum, the potential for a conflict of interest clearly existed.

Conclusion

ADLF therefore requests that your office immediately commence an investigation into whether Ms. Ernst violated Iowa conflict of interest statutes.  These laws are critical to preventing officials from putting their private interests before the public’s, and should be enforced vigorously.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Brad Woodhouse

Treasurer

Encls.



[1] Iowa Legislature website, Senator Joni Ernst profile (attached as Exhibit A); Montgomery Says Farewell To Auditor, Daily Nonpareil (Council Bluffs), January 9, 2011 (attached as Exhibit B).

[2] Montgomery County Supervisors Minutes, June 7, 2007 (attached as Exhibit C).

[3] Iowa State Association of County Auditors, County Auditor Duties & Responsibilities, available at http://www.iowaauditors.org/aud_responsibilites/index.html.

[4] Joni Ernst for U.S. Senate, Inc., FEC Form 3, 2013 October Quarterly Report, Amended, March 4, 2014 (excerpts attached as Exhibit D).

[5] Montgomery County Supervisors Minutes, April 9, 2009 (attached as Exhibit E).

[6] Montgomery County Supervisors Minutes, August 27, 2009 (attached as Exhibit F).

[7] Id.

[8] Montgomery County Supervisors Minutes, October 29, 2009 (attached as Exhibit G).

[9] Montgomery County Supervisors Minutes, April 8, 2010 (attached as Exhibit H).

[10] Montgomery County Supervisors Minutes, April 15, 2010 (attached as Exhibit I).

[11] Id.

[12] Amy Hansen, Smith, Ernst Offer Differing Approaches To Improve Iowa, Red Oak Express, December 21, 2010 (attached as Exhibit J).

[13] Montgomery County Supervisors Minutes, December 9, 2010 (attached as Exhibit K).

 
Braley Visits Cedar Rapids and Iowa City to Discuss His Plans to Fight for Working Iowans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Sam Lau   
Thursday, 02 October 2014 08:02
In contrast, Sen. Ernst stands with the oil billionaire Koch brothers backing her campaign
Cedar Rapids, IA—Today, Bruce Braley visited the Blue Strawberry Coffee Company in Cedar Rapids and the Hamburg Inn No. 2 in Iowa City to talk to Iowans about the issues that matter to them and his plans to fight for working families in the U.S. Senate.

Braley spoke with Iowans today on a variety of issues—from his plans to increase the minimum wage and provide 300,000 Iowans with a pay raise, to his fight to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare for all generations of Iowans, to his efforts to work across the aisle to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard that supports nearly 75,000 Iowa jobs, to his efforts to keep college affordable.

“Today I had important conversations with my fellow Iowans on the issues that matter to them—from growing the economy and creating jobs, to raising the minimum wage, to protecting retirement security and maintaining access to a quality and affordable education,” said Braley. “What I heard from almost everyone was they want a U.S. Senator who can bring people together and put Iowa first. I am proud of my record of reaching across the party divide to deliver results for Iowa, and I will always make Iowa’s working families my number one priority.”

State Sen. Joni Ernst has sided with the oil billionaire Koch brothers backing her campaign on these and other issues. Ernst thinks $7.25 per hour -- or $15,000 per year -- is an "appropriate" minimum wage for Iowa; has said that privatizing Social Security "is an option"; and has said that the federal government needs to get out of the student loan business.

Yesterday, Braley visited two ethanol plants in northwest Iowa to discuss his efforts to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard and pass a Farm Bill. Braley has earned the endorsement of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. In contrast, Sen. Ernst has said she is "philosophically opposed" to the RFS and would have voted against the Farm Bill.
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