Everything this week! Hemorrhoids, rings, Deace,
Oscars and Iowans for Tax Relief
Friends and fans of Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley say he’d better watch his back. They say that powerful party forces — and that’s code for Ed Failor Jr.’s Iowans for Tax Relief — are out to do him in. These folks would rather see one of their own — and that probably means Bill Dix — as leader of the 24 Senate Republicans, top people in both parties tell Skinny.
— Failor’s group rained money on Dix in his bid last fall to return to the Legislature after dropping out to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 2006. The group gave him $62,500 — more than it gave anyone else except House Speaker Kraig Paulsen — as he steamrollered Democratic incumbent Bill Heckroth in the Butler County district. (Dix is a former director of Iowans for Tax Relief, and Failor was at Dix’s side when he announced.) In contrast, it gave $1,000 to McKinley, and that was nearly two years before the election.
— The personable Dix and the newly elected and equally conservative but not equally personable Kent Sorenson were right up front along with House leaders Paulsen and Linda Upmeyer when Iowans for Tax Relief brought Michelle Bachman to Des Moines a couple of weeks ago. McKinley wasn’t.
— Steve Deace, the de facto spokesman for the really-really-really conservatives, tweeted last week that “Every day the Senate Republicans allow Paul McKinley to remain their leader is a day that is a waste of time.”
“Iowans for Tax Relief now pretty much runs the Legislature,” a former GOP legislative leader told Skinny last week, and a current GOP legislator said the same thing. Indeed, the Muscatine-based organization has gone from writing checks for a few thousand dollars to disbursing six-figure amounts. In the last campaign, it gave more than $250,000 to Paulsen, who in turn funneled more than $1 million to the Eisenhower Club of the state Republican Party — the group that spreads money to worthy candidates. And Iowans for Tax Relief gives directly to its favorites; Sorenson, for example, got $11,000 in his successful effort to unseat Staci Appel.
Then there’s this: Jeff Boeyink, who was president of Iowans for Tax Relief until resigning in September of 2008 to run the gubernatorial campaign of Terry Branstad, now is chief of staff for the new governor. And the governor’s son, Eric, is the development director of the group.
“Iowans for Tax Relief PAC, the political action arm of Iowans for Tax Relief, is the most effective force in Iowa politics,” the organization’s website claims, and it’s probably right....
Deace, who has segued from a blustery radio sports talker into an evangelical conservative on WHO radio, made a run at elective politics the other day but was shot down. At the last minute, he tried for the chairmanship of the Polk County Republican Party, but Kevin McLaughlin beat him, 66 to 37. Deace’s five-minute campaign speech to the delegates was remarkable. “I don’t know one thing on how to run a political party from an organizational standpoint,” he said, which doesn’t give a delegate a lot of confidence. Then he spent most of the time urging adherence to the GOP’s state platform — an ultra-conservative document that most GOP candidates, including Branstad, avoided at all costs during the campaign. Among other things, it calls for the right to carry guns in schools, the end to all farm subsidies, the end to the minimum wage, elimination of the departments of energy, agriculture and education, elimination of social security, Medicare and Medicaid, the teaching of creationism in the schools, a repeal of the ban on smoking, and elimination of all state and federal corporate income taxes. Among other things.
“If you do not advance your platform, you will not win,” Deace told the county convention. The Deace loss seemed to refute his statement.
Deace also mentioned that he had written commercials for some politicians, and that — combined with his running for party office — makes you wonder what the rules are at WHO. ...
Speaking of pains in the ass....No, that’s not a nice segue. Rather,....
Speaking of Republicans, how about the fact that Clel Baudler, the Greenfield legislator, got to the age of 71 before learning what a hemorrhoid is? To show the evils of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, Baudler went to a center in California where he lied to get a prescription. He said he had hemorrhoids, depression and a bad knee. He said he did it — breaking the law along the way — “to show how asinine it would be to legalize ‘medical marijuana’” in Iowa.
“Those of you that know me know that I have never had an issue with depression, and to be honest, I don’t even know what hemorrhoids were,” he said in a newsletter this fall. The story was picked up by national media, including Mother Jones. One reader’s comment: “That fucker needs to mind his own business.”
Next week’s story: Clel Baudler learns about Preparation H. ...
The Iowa Supreme Court is likely to be an all-male bench again, court watchers predict. After interviews private and public, the 15-member Judicial Nominating Commission sent nine names to Branstad, who must pick three of those for the openings on the seven-person court. Only one of the nine is a woman, and she has a couple of strikes against her. Angela Onwuachi-Willig of Grinnell, a law professor at the University of Iowa, signed on to an amicus brief in the gay-marriage case, a fact that doesn’t help her any with Branstad and his general counsel, the conservative Brenna Findley, who will sit in on the governor’s private interviews with the nominees. Also, the professor had neglected to become a member of the Iowa bar until time for the interviews arrived — and membership in the bar is a prerequisite for being appointed.
Former U.S. attorney Matt Whitaker was one of the 51 applicants who didn’t get the nod. Whitaker, a onetime University of Iowa football star, brought former Iowa basketball star Bobby Hansen to the hearing with him, which some of the panel took note of. Some also noted Whitaker’s ring, which prompted this e-mail from one Des Moines lawyer: “As to Whitaker, who came to the interview wearing his Rose Bowl participant’s ring (as contrasted to a Rose Bowl championship ring): Does he now get a Supreme Court ‘applicant’ ring for his other hand?” ...
The Des Moines Register published a story about Iowa connections to Oscar nominations and missed this one — Scott Silver was nominated for Best Original Screen Play for “The Fighter.” A frequent visitor to Des Moines, Silver is the husband of photographer-film maker and Des Moines native Anna Gaskell. Gaskell’s first film “Acts” debuted recently in the Jeu De Paume Museum in Paris. It was mostly shot at the Iowa State Fair. CV