Politics & Elections
U.S. Senate Candidate Mark Jacobs Advocates for Job Growth by Closing Iowa’s “Skills Gap” PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Alissa Ohl   
Friday, 17 January 2014 16:16

Whitepaper details first component in five point plan for job growth

WEST DES MOINES – U.S. Senate candidate Mark Jacobs today released “Strengthening Education, Our Workforce, and America’s Economy,” a white paper focused solely on his first priority for job growth: emphasizing community colleges and vocational schools to close the skills gap.

Jacobs said decisions about K-12 education are best made at the local level. However, one area where the government can make proactive investments is in addressing the skills gap – a disconnect between the types of skills the job market needs and the skills the workforce possesses.

“The availability of jobs is only part of the problem. The fact is that workers don’t have the proper skills to fill many of the jobs that are currently available. However, we can begin closing the skills gap by providing community colleges and vocational schools with the resources they need to train our workforce and by supporting those individuals who wish to improve their skills so that they can get a better paying job,” said Mark Jacobs.

Connecting American workers with the opportunity to learn necessary skills has obvious benefits to the economy. Workers with training and skills can expect to see an increase in earnings, better job prospects, and are able to support the economy through higher levels of disposable income.

“It’s clear to me that the recession is not over. We need to empower American families through education, so that they can get a better job, opportunities, accelerate economic growth, and break the cycle of poverty,” he said.

Jacobs detailed his vision for job growth through education by offering three concrete steps towards closing the skills gap:

  • 1) Consolidate and simplify current workforce training programs. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office identified twenty-six duplicative programs in a 2011 report. In the business world, effectiveness and efficiency are high priorities. Applying these business principles to our current workforce training regime would free up funding to do what it is meant to do – help institutions and individuals meet the needs of today’s job market.
  • 2) Provide funding to the states as block grants. Bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be passing “one size fits all” policies and pushing them at the states with little regard for the nuances and demands of each diverse state’s job market. Instead, my belief is that decision-making should take place as close as possible to the local level. Local community colleges are vital players in an effort to close the skills gap, and block grant funding would allow them to partner with government and industry in their immediate regions. Block grant funding provides these partners with the flexibility they need to truly understand the needs of the local job market and make real opportunities available for workers in those communities.
  • 3) Offer pragmatic incentives and empower individuals to build skills. Congress could make a number of adjustments to already existing programs that would make enrolling in skill-building programs dramatically more attainable for millions of Americans. Congress can empower workers by: a) Extending Pell Grants to summer classes for students who enroll year-round; b) Extending Pell Grants to one-year skill certificate [and non-certificate] programs and part-time enrollment; and c) Extending tax credits to part-time students.

Jacobs said, “The bottom line is that high school graduates in Iowa and around the nation do not fully meet the demands of our state’s labor market, and that leads to losses in productivity and economic opportunity. Congress should view the “skills gap” as a real issue, and accordingly invest in America’s workforce with thoughtful, pragmatic legislation and programs so that we can effectively create opportunities and get our country back to work.”

To view or download “Strengthening Education, Our Workforce, and America’s Economy,” please click here.


To learn more about Mark Jacobs, please visit: www.jacobsforiowa.com

LIKE Mark on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JacobsforIowa
Follow Mark on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarkJocobsIowa

About Mark Jacobs

A life-long Republican, Mark previously served as president and CEO of Reliant Energy, a Fortune 500 electric power company. During his time at Reliant Energy, he played an integral role in the turnaround of the company. Mark is the founder of Reaching Higher Iowa, an organization advocating for improved public education. Mark graduated from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines in 1980. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from Northwestern University. Mark and his wife, Janet, have three children: Clark, Christy, and Sam. The family resides in West Des Moines.

Major Announcement from Gov. Branstad PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by A. J. Spiker   
Wednesday, 15 January 2014 10:52
Tonight, Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds are making a major campaign announcement about the future of Iowa. They've invited all Republicans in Iowa to join them at this historic announcement. The event will be at the Hy-Vee Conference Center in West Des Moines at 6:30pm.

Volunteers, donors and supporters throughout Iowa are the backbone of our great party. From knocking on doors, making phone calls and writing checks, to talking to friends and neighbors and providing the encouraging words our Republican candidates need to hear. So along with Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov Reynolds, I'd be honored if you could join the Republican Party of Iowa at tonight's event.

Iowa is clearly on a path to a brighter future. Please join the Republican Party of Iowa, along with Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds, tonight in West Des Moines at 6:30pm.

Voter fraud: We’ve got proof it’s easy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by John Fund | National Review Online   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 13:51

Liberals who oppose efforts to prevent voter fraud claim that there is no fraud — or at least not any that involves voting in person at the polls.

But New York City’s watchdog Department of Investigations has just provided the latest evidence of how easy it is to commit voter fraud that is almost undetectable.

DOI undercover agents showed up at 63 polling places last fall and pretended to be voters who should have been turned away by election officials; the agents assumed the names of individuals who had died or moved out of town, or who were sitting in jail. In 61 instances, or 97 percent of the time, the testers were allowed to vote. Those who did vote cast only a write-in vote for a “John Test” so as to not affect the outcome of any contest. DOI published its findings two weeks ago in a searing 70-page report accusing the city’s Board of Elections of incompetence, waste, nepotism, and lax procedures.

The Board of Elections, which has a $750 million annual budget and a workforce of 350 people, reacted in classic bureaucratic fashion, which prompted one city paper to deride it as “a 21st-century survivor of Boss Tweed–style politics.” The Board approved a resolution referring the DOI’s investigators for prosecution. It also asked the state’s attorney general to determine whether DOI had violated the civil rights of voters who had moved or are felons, and it sent a letter of complaint to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Normally, I wouldn’t think de Blasio would give the BOE the time of day, but New York’s new mayor has long been a close ally of former leaders of ACORN, the now-disgraced “community organizing” group that saw its employees convicted of voter-registration fraud all over the country during and after the 2008 election.

Greg Soumas, president of New York’s BOE, offered a justification for calling in the prosecutors: “If something was done in an untoward fashion, it was only done by DOI. We (are) unaware of any color of authority on the part of (DOI) to vote in the identity of any person other than themselves — and our reading of the election law is that such an act constitutes a felony.”

The Board is bipartisan, and all but two of its members voted with Soumas. The sole exceptions were Democrat Jose Araujo, who abstained because the DOI report implicated him in hiring his wife and sister-and-law for Board jobs, and Republican Simon Shamoun.

Good-government groups are gobsmacked at Soumas’s refusal to smell the stench of corruption in his patronage-riddled empire.

“They should focus not on assigning blame to others, but on taking responsibility for solving the problems themselves,” Dick Dadey of the watchdog group Citizens Union told the Daily News. “It’s a case of the Board of Elections passing the buck.”

DOI officials respond that the use of undercover agents is routine in anti-corruption probes and that people should carefully read the 70-page report they’ve filed before criticizing it. They are surprised how little media attention their report has received.

You’d think more media outlets would have been interested, because the sloppiness revealed in the DOI report is mind-boggling.

Young undercover agents were able to vote using the names of people three times their age, people who in fact were dead. In one example, a 24-year female agent gave the name of someone who had died in 2012 at age 87; the workers at the Manhattan polling site gave her a ballot, no questions asked.

Even the two cases where poll workers turned away an investigator raise eyebrows. In the first case, a poll worker on Staten Island walked outside with the undercover investigator who had just been refused a ballot; the “voter” was advised to go to the polling place near where he used to live and “play dumb” in order to vote. In the second case, the investigator was stopped from voting only because the felon whose name he was using was the son of the election official at the polling place.

Shooting the messenger has been a typical reaction in other states when people have demonstrated just how easy it is to commit voter fraud.

Guerrilla videographer James O’Keefe had three of his assistants visit precincts during New Hampshire’s January 2012 presidential primary. They asked poll workers whether their books listed the names of several voters, all deceased individuals still listed on voter-registration rolls. Poll workers handed out 10 ballots, never once asking for a photo ID.

O’Keefe’s team immediately gave back the ballots, unmarked, to precinct workers. Debbie Lane, a ballot inspector at one of the Manchester polling sites, later said: “I wasn’t sure what I was allowed to do. …  I can’t tell someone not to vote, I suppose.”

The only precinct in which O’Keefe or his crew did not obtain a ballot was one in which the local precinct officer had personally known the dead “voter.”

New Hampshire’s Democratic Gov. John Lynch sputtered when asked about O’Keefe’s video, and he condemned the effort to test the election system even though no actual votes were cast.

“They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, if in fact they’re found guilty of some criminal act,” he roared.

But cooler heads eventually prevailed, and the GOP Legislature later approved a voter-ID bill, with enough votes to override the governor’s veto. Despite an exhaustive and intrusive investigation, no charges were filed against any of O’Keefe’s associates.

Later in 2012, in Washington, D.C., one of O’Keefe’s assistants was able to obtain Attorney General Eric Holder’s ballot even though Holder is 62 years old and bears no resemblance to the 22-year-old white man who obtained it merely by asking if Eric Holder was on the rolls.

But the Department of Justice, which is suing Texas to block that state’s photo-ID law, dismissed the Holder ballot incident as “manufactured.” The irony was lost on the DOJ that Holder, a staunch opponent of voter-ID laws, himself could have been disenfranchised by a white man because Washington, D.C., has no voter-ID law. Polls consistently show that more than 70 percent of Americans — including clear majorities of African-Americans and Hispanics — support such laws.

Liberals who oppose ballot-security measures claim that there are few prosecutions for voter fraud, which they take to mean that fraud doesn’t happen. But as the New York DOI report demonstrates, it is comically easy, given the sloppy-voter registration records often kept in America, to commit voter fraud in person. (A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center found that nationwide, at least 1.8 million deceased voters still are registered to vote.) And unless someone confesses, in-person voter fraud is very difficult to detect — or stop.

New York’s Gothamist news service reported last September that four poll workers in Brooklyn reported they believed people were trying to vote in the name of other registered voters. Police officers observed the problems but did nothing because voter fraud isn’t under the police department’s purview.

What the DOI investigators were able to do was eerily similar to actual fraud that has occurred in New York before. In 1984, Brooklyn’s Democratic district attorney, Elizabeth Holtzman, released a state grand-jury report on a successful 14-year conspiracy that cast thousands of fraudulent votes in local, state and congressional elections. Just like the DOI undercover operatives, the conspirators cast votes at precincts in the names of dead, moved and bogus voters. The grand jury recommended voter ID, a basic election-integrity measure that New York steadfastly has refused to implement.

In states where non-photo ID is required, it’s also all too easy to manufacture records that allow people to vote. In 2012, the son of Congressman Jim Moran, the Democrat who represents Virginia’s Washington suburbs, had to resign as field director for his father’s campaign after it became clear that he had encouraged voter fraud. Patrick Moran was caught advising an O’Keefe videographer on how to commit in-person voter fraud. The scheme involved using a personal computer to forge utility bills that would satisfy Virginia’s voter-ID law and then relying on the assistance of Democratic lawyers stationed at the polls to make sure the fraudulent votes were counted. Last year, Virginia tightened its voter-ID law and ruled that showing a utility bill was no longer sufficient to obtain a ballot.

Given that someone who is dead, is in jail, or has moved isn’t likely to complain if someone votes in his name, how do we know that voter fraud at the polls isn’t a problem? An ounce of prevention — in the form of voter ID and better training of poll workers — should be among the minimum precautions taken to prevent an electoral miscarriage or meltdown in a close race.

After all, even a small number of votes can have sweeping consequences. Al Franken’s 312-vote victory in 2008 over Minnesota U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman gave Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate majority of 60 votes, which allowed them to pass Obamacare. Months after the Obamacare vote, a conservative group called Minnesota Majority finished comparing criminal records with voting rolls and identified 1,099 felons — all ineligible to vote — who had voted in the Franken–Coleman race. Fox News random interviews with 10 of those felons found that nine had voted for Franken, backing up national academic studies that show felons tend to vote strongly for Democrats.

Minnesota Majority took its findings to prosecutors across the state, but very few showed any interest in pursuing the issue. Some did, though, and 177 people have been convicted as of mid 2012 — not just “accused” but actually convicted — of voting fraudulently in the Senate race. Probably the only reason the number of convictions isn’t higher is that the standard for convicting someone of voter fraud in Minnesota is that the person must have been both ineligible and must have “knowingly” voted unlawfully. Anyone accused of fraud is apt to get off by claiming he didn’t know he’d done anything wrong.

Given that we now know for certain how easy it is to commit undetectable voter fraud and how serious the consequences can be, it’s truly bizarre to have officials at the New York City Board of Elections and elsewhere savage those who shine a light on the fact that their modus operandi invites fraud. One might even think that they’re covering up their incompetence or that they don’t want to pay attention to what crimes could be occurring behind the curtains at their polling places. Or both.

John Fund is a national-affairs columnist for National Review Online. Along with Hans von Spakovsky, he is the author of Who’s Counting: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk​.

Grassley to hold meetings in 11 Iowa communities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 10:10

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley will hold 11 meetings in Iowa during the week of January 20 as part of his 99-county tour.

Grassley has held at least one meeting in each of Iowa’s 99 counties every year since he was first elected to the U.S. Senate. He started this year’s series on Jan. 3 in Floyd and Chickasaw counties.

On Jan. 20, 21, 22, and 24, Grassley will hold meetings in Clarksville, Ackley, Conrad, Waverly, Independence, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, Ankeny, Boone, Nevada and State Center.

“Representative government is a two-way street.  It’s strengthened by dialogue between elected officials and the people we represent,” Grassley said.  “I appreciate the opportunity to go directly to Iowans in their workplaces and where they’re gathered for civic group meetings for question and answer sessions.  I also enjoy meeting with high school students as they study current affairs and government.”

Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after each meeting to answer questions from local reporters.  Members of the media should contact the individual organization about attending each event, as Grassley is a guest of the organization.

In addition to the county meetings, on Jan. 22 Grassley will give a speech on whistleblowing and government accountability at the University of Northern Iowa following a Q&A with an Iowa politics class.  On Jan. 23, Grassley will speak at “Hearing in the Heartland:  Supporting the Renewable Fuels Standard,” hosted by Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.  More information about this event is available here.


Grassley’s schedule for the week of January 20 is as follows:­


Monday, January 20

9-10 a.m.

Q&A with students at Clarksville High School

318 North Mather


*Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local reporters.


11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Q&A with the Ackley Chamber of Commerce

Presbyterian Village

502 Butler Street


*Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local reporters.


1:45-2:45 p.m.

Tour and Q&A with employees at Ritchie Industries, Inc.

120 South Main Street


*Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local reporters.


Tuesday, January 21

9:45-10:45 a.m.

Tour and Q&A with employees at Terex Cranes
106 12th St SE

*Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local reporters.


Noon-1 p.m.

Q&A with the Rotary Club of Independence

Bill’s Pizza

201 1st Street West


*Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local reporters.


2:30-3:30 p.m.

Tour and Q&A with employees at TrueNorth Transportation Division

500 1st Street Southeast

Cedar Rapids

*Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local reporters.


Wednesday, January 22

2-3 p.m.

Q&A with Iowa politics class

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls


3:15-4:15 p.m.

Speech and Q&A on Whistleblowing and Government Accountability

Maucker Union, University Room

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls

*This event is free and open to the public.  Grassley will be available to 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local media.


Thursday, January 23

3-4 p.m.

“Hearing in the Heartland:  Supporting the Renewable Fuels Standard”

Hall of Laureates

100 Locust Street

Des Moines


Friday, January 24

8:30-9:30 a.m.

Tour and Q&A with employees at Lorenz & Jones Marine Distributor

3402 SE Convenience Boulevard


*Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local reporters.


11 a.m.-Noon

Tour and Q&A with employees at Rolfes @ Boone

1773 219th Lane


*Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local reporters.


1-2 p.m.

Q&A with students at Nevada High School
1001 15th Street


*Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local reporters.


2:45-3:30 p.m.

Q&A with students at West Marshall High School
601 3rd Street NW

State Center

*Grassley will be available for 15 minutes after the meeting to answer questions from local reporters.



Braley Takes Senate Campaign to Four North Iowa Communities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Politics & Elections
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 13 January 2014 11:04
Hosts Meet and Greet events in Boone, Algona, Garner, and Forest City

DES MOINES, IA – Rep. Bruce Braley took his campaign for US Senate in 2014 to four North Iowa communities today to host informal “Meet and Greet” events with local residents. The events in Boone, Algona, Garner, and Forest City marks his first campaign events in these communities since announcing his candidacy for Senate.

Braley said, "Today in Iowa, the middle class struggles with rising costs and shrinking opportunities. Politicians in Washington ignore the real problems and often make things worse. I’m running for Senate to fight for the things that matter most to Iowans.

“I grew up in Brooklyn, Iowa, and I’ve never forgotten where I come from. My parents taught me the value of hard work, and I worked hard in jobs like road construction to help put myself through college. In the Senate, I’ll work for Iowa to create jobs, help small businesses succeed, and protect Social Security and Medicare. I’ll fight for middle class Iowans, because that’s where I come from.”

Braley is continuing to travel the state to discuss his background and his campaign to create jobs, help small businesses succeed, and strengthen the middle class. 

Bruce Braley was born in Grinnell and grew up in nearby Brooklyn, Iowa. His father, a Marine who fought on Iwo Jima in World War II, and his mother, a teacher, taught him the value of hard work. Braley worked jobs like road construction and truck driving to help pay his way through college and law school. As an attorney in Waterloo, Braley represented Iowans who took on powerful interests and big corporations. Elected to the US House in 2006, Braley has worked to create Iowa jobs, protect farms, strengthen small businesses, and stand up for veterans. Bruce Braley is running for Senate to fight for the things that matter most to Iowans. He’ll fight for middle class families, because that’s where he comes from.

Braley lives in Waterloo with his wife, Carolyn. They have three children: Lisa, David, and Paul.
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